Casts and Blasts about Marion’s Turkey Vultures.

A turkey vulture glides over downtown Marion, getting ready to spend the night on the town’s water tower or nearby trees.

A few items that didn’t make it into Saturday’s front page story about the up to 200 turkey vultures that often roost near downtown Marion. YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE ORIGINAL STORY ON KANSAS .COM.

– They’re vultures, not buzzards, and there is a difference though both species of birds mostly eat carrion. Vultures are actually closely related to storks.

– Most of the birds seen around Marion’s water tower these days are probably year-old birds, not yet mature enough to nest. Most adults are probably scattered across the countryside raising vultlets, or whatever the young are called.

– Like all migratory birds, turkey vultures are protected by federal laws and can’t legally be shot or killed. There would also be that little problem with firing a firearm in the city limits of Marion.

– A flock of vultures is called a venue, and a group circling in the air are a kettle…not that I could ever imagine cooking a vulture in a kettle.

– Vultures have been on Earth for an estimated 40 million years, which is about how long grazing animals (a.k.a. vulture food) have also roamed the planet.

– Some Kansas birders jokingly refer to road kills as “TV dinners,” referencing that they’ll probably be eaten by Turkey Vultures.

Biologists think vultures are probably attracted to Marion’s water tower because its height makes it easier for the birds to soar away in the morning.

– Though their beaks are strong and very sharp, turkey vultures often use vomiting as a means of protection. (Had it happen to a relative one time…he assured me it was not pleasant.)

– Adult turkey vultures have few predators, though they are sometimes struck by vehicles when they flush beside roadways or the occasionally hit utility lines. Another problem is if they are eating the remains of an animal killed by a human hunter ,and ingest a lead bullet or shotgun pellet. Either can be fatal because of lead poisoning.