This is Turkey Vulture tagging season! 2009 marks the 7th year of TUVU tagging in Saskatchewan by Dr. Stuart Houston, Brent Terry, Marten Stoffel, and Mike Bloom.
For those who are not aware banders are not permitted to place aluminum bands on the legs of Turkey Vultures. This is because TUVU excrete their body waste down their legs to cool themselves. If you place an aluminum band on their leg, you soon get a cement like mass on their leg that can seriously cause problems for the bird. Therefore to track TUVU's we place a patagial tag on the wing. Below is an example of one of these tags.
For the last 7 years Stuart's crew has been tagging nestling TUVU in Saskatchewan. They are trying to determine when young TUVUs begin nesting. Before this study, there was only one TUVU of known age on a nest in North America, it was 11 years old at the time. To date, I don't believe there has been any records of any of the wing tagged vultures from Saskatchewan have begun successful breeding but it is expected in the next few years some light will be shed on this question.
Last week I joined Brent Terry and Marten Stoffel at Indian Head to check on a few TUVU nests in the area. Lorne Scott also joined us. He has had TUVUs nesting on his land for over 4 years now I believe. I had a great time with all three of these guys! And we met a couple of wonderful landowners as well.
If you see a TUVU with a green wing tag please report it. You can contact me, or Dr. Stuart Houston of Saskatoon, SK. Or you can report it to http://www.reportband.gov/.
Turkey Vultures are increasing in numbers in Saskatchewan. They are using old abandoned farm houses and buildings as an artificial cave to nest in. If you are in SK and have TUVUs nesting in an old abandoned building on your land, please contact either me or Stuart. Below is an example of a Turkey Vulture house that has been active north of Regina for at least the last 4 years.