Most all of us know this is a buzzard. This Turkey Vulture is in a family of birds some people seem to look down on. To some, they’re ugly. Like I always say “everyone has a mother”. Maybe a face only a mother could love. These birds are scavengers. They eat things that make others sick. Buzzards provide a great service by cleaning the earth of road kill and all sorts of carrion, carcasses and just plain nasty stuff. They are also a symbol of death to many. We’ve seen the cartoons of vultures sitting on a cactus in the desert just waiting for someone to drop.
There is a different bird flying over Baja that gets a bad rap. This bird is a buteo, a soaring Hawk, not a buzzard at all. In flight it looks like a Turkey Vulture. Similar color, and shape. They even mingle with buzzards to help disguise themselves from the live prey they are searching for. The bird flying on the left is a Turkey Vulture and on the right we have a Zone tailed Hawk.
Pretty much look-alikes when seen from down below unless you really pay attention. There’s no mistaking this handsome bird when spotted perching on a cardon.
So when you’re looking up at the sky and at a glance see what you think are buzzards, take a closer look and you may see a Zone tailed Hawk.
Before I forget, Cornel Labs is helping birders observe a pair of Red-tailed Hawks nesting if you’re interested. This live cam is really worth viewing.