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Know your vultures

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You can easily distinguish between our two local vultures if you see them in flight. The slightly larger turkey vulture has a V-shaped wing pattern when soaring; the black vulture’s wings are held out straight and have white feathers at the tips.

The turkey vulture flies lower and relies on its incredible sense of smell to locate decaying flesh. Black vultures fly higher, have a poorly developed sense of smell, and use vision to locate meals – often spotting feeding turkey vultures and aggressively driving them away from their food. Black vultures, like turkey vultures, have featherless heads but their skin remains black even at maturity. Vulture‘s stomach acid is stronger than battery acid and they vomit on people or animals that threaten them. To cool and disinfect their featherless feet, they defecate on them with their very acidic poop.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.