There are no hard and fast rules as to what can be included on a person’s yard list. I have friends that count every bird they can see while standing in their yard. Others list only those birds that land on their property. I am one of those that list all of the birds that either land or pass through the air space above their yard. Consequently, although I have never seen a turkey vulture land in my yard, it has earned its way on my list because it routinely flies through the air space above the Johnson homestead.
However, to say it flies above my yard is like saying Ted Williams was a baseball player. The truth of the matter is Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters of all time. By the same token, the turkey vulture’s ability to glide above the ground seemingly forever is unmatched by any other Georgia bird.
Ornithologists tell us that the turkey vulture can actually glide for up to six hours without once flapping its wings. During this time its shadow can pass over 200 miles of the Georgia countryside. Sometimes the bird flies low enough over our backyards for us to see its distinctive red head. At other times, it can soar above the clouds at elevations of 20,000 feet or more.
These are amazing fetes for a bird with a six-foot wingspan yet only weighs up to four pounds.
I cannot count the number of times I have stopped working in the yard just to watch a turkey vulture glide over holding its wings in a shallow V above its head. Often when this happens, for a brief moment, my imagination takes flight and I find myself wishing that I could soar like a turkey vulture. Then reality sets in I return to the reality that I will forever remain earthbound. However, in my mind, any bird that can take me on a flight of fancy without ever touching down in my yard deserves to be on my yard list.