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High Desert’s Vultures Return on Icy Winds

Some traditional events are founded on the return of animals and birds to their home range after a cold winter. This year we didn’t really have Winter in the winter months of December of January. It was disappointing to people hoping for a snow-ski season as well as plants and trees ready to replenish their stores of water for a summer that’s sure to be a scorcher.

Lucerne Valley Sunrise

Lucerne Valley Sunrise

Today came the first signs of the first returns of a bird that no one really pays much attention to. They don’t flash a colorful wing, or come down to frolic around the bird feeders; in fact, most folks ignore them.

The California Vulture sets his timer to return about mid-March after the worst of the weather is over.

Then why are they showing up a month early? We can only speculate  that they felt it was time to return. The short rain season, snow season, cold snap, then followed by a crazy warming trend, would confuse any of us. The vultures are just now returning from Mexico because they think it’s time.

California Vulture

California Vulture


We surely can’t shoo them back south and tell them their timing is off. We can only enjoy watching them soar and wheel in the cold skies, enjoy their awkward hop-jump and limp when they attempt to be ground birds, and revel in their displays as the first rays of sun warm their cold backs. Many can be seen roosting on ranches around the valley, perched on teetering treetops, fences or rock ledges, hoping that any kind of warmth will soak into their black backs.

They’re no swallows like those returning to Mission Capistrano. Just buzzards back from the barranca.

 Rusty LaGrange

If you like what you see here, you can find more stories at . Rusty is a freelance writer, poet, editor, and spends her days staring at the skies when the buzzards return.


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