‘Vulture Venture’ highlights benefits of nature’s misunderstood birds
BRANSON, Mo. – Vultures are a well-known, but under-appreciated member of the bird world, but few of us seem to realize that these large, dark-colored “buzzards” perform a valuable service in nature.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will help us appreciate these often-misunderstood birds on Saturday, Feb. 25 at its annual “Vulture Venture” program from Noon to 5 p.m. at Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, located on the west end of Lake Taneycomo, just below Table Rock Dam near Branson. Reservations are not necessary for the free event. For more information, call the hatchery at 417-334-4865, Ext. 0. Information about vultures and other birds of Missouri can also be found at mdc.mo.gov.
Vultures can be observed at Lake Taneycomo throughout the year, but in winter, this well-known trout-fishing spot attracts hundreds more. One reason is its canyon-like topography that gives the birds a haven from cold winter winds. The abundant sycamore trees provide sturdy roosting sites.
Although many people find vultures disgusting, these birds provide a valuable clean-up service by ridding the environment of dead animals. They often share the air space with black vultures, which have keen eyesight that turkey vultures lack. In return, the black vultures benefit from the sharp sense of smell that guides turkey vultures to carrion.
Vulture Venture event includes both outside viewing opportunities and indoor activities. Visitors may see vultures along the lake through spotting scopes, while indoors at the conservation, you can get an up-close-and-personal view of a live, captive vulture furnished by the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield.