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I have vultures on my roof for Christmas

It's the Christmas Season, a time for family, celebration, good food and an extra ten pounds that I certainly don't need and instead of Santa and his eight tiny reindeer on my roof, I've got buzzards. Of course they have always been around, and we see them riding the air currents high up in the air but this year there are an overabundance of them, a population explosion. They also seem to have lost much of the respect for human habitation their more discrete relatives formerly possessed. There is a large group in the area that have become quite a nuisance, like unwelcome relatives who come over for Christmas dinner and instead of helping just loll around on the sofa eating crackers and drinking up all the beer. I know when they are on the roof because I hear them scratching the shingles with their nasty, sharp claws.

Actually these are Black Vultures, (Coragyps atratus) because buzzards are differently birds entirely. Early American settlers from Europe confused this carrion eater with the buzzards they knew back home but the two are not alike at all. Turkey vultures don't build nests in trees but prefer to nest in rocks, crevices, caves and even abandoned buildings and because they lack a syrinx, which is the bird vocal organ the only noises they can make are grunts and hisses. We often see Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) feeding together on the same carcass because Black Vultures, as they do not have the same highly developed odor-detecting ability of the Turkey Vulture, will often follow their cousins to the food supply and being more aggressive will then displace the others from the dead animal. Black vultures may have a diminished sense of smell, but that doesn't mean that they themselves don't smell, in fact they do. I'm getting tired of putting up with them and am tempted to take my .22 and start turning them into carcasses themselves. It's against the law to kill a native species and they know that, so they feel safe.

I've drawn more attractive animals, but to satisfy my objective to add something to my sketchbook every day I decided to do a pencil drawing of one of the Black Vultures that was perched high up in the dead tree that is next to my house. The feather pattern is interesting, if nothing else.

The birds that roost on my roof aren't concerned about anything because when I first heard them up there I went outside and stared at them so they stared back. Then I yelled at them but they just stared. I got the usual bunch of brilliant suggestions.

"Have you tried a bullhorn?"

"You need to get those things off of your roof. They will find a way into your house."

Now I bang metal pots and shout "Get off my roof you stinking birds!" I'm beyond caring what the neighbors think. Sometimes they get up and fly off to join the others in the tree, but they usually come right back again.

Stinking birds.

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