The Story Behind Bisbee’s Turkey Vultures & Festival
The Turkey Vultures return to Bisbee on or around the second Saturday in March every year, right around March 11th. Like all things Bisbee, there's a celebration to welcome these fascinating carrion birds back to Arizona, upon their return from as far south as Panama.
I spoke to Bisbee's Turkey Vulture Festival organizer, Cado Daily and got the history of this unique festival.
"The festival started in 2017, with two years off during the COVID pandemic lockdowns," Cado told me, "And while the celebration is relatively new to Bisbee, the concept isn't new."
The town of Hinkley, Ohio has been holding an official Buzzard Festival since 1958. In Arizona, the Boyce Tompson Arboretum in Superior holds their Bye Bye Buzzards Festival every September. Now Arivaca will hold its very first Vulture Festival this year, planning to make it an annual event.
The Buzz Around Buzzards
So why all the buzz around buzzards? Cado explained, "We're trying to change the negative opinion some people have around these birds, and spread awareness about their value."
Cado continued, "Vultures are nature's public works department and they do an important service for our ecosystem." By cleaning up carcasses and consuming dead things, vultures remove the potential for spread of disease.
Turkey Vultures Behavior
Turkey Vultures are scavengers and never eat live things. Their beaks are sharp, but their talons are very weak, so they're not able to grasp anything; small, living animals are safe around them.
The turkey vultures are Bisbee's spring and summer residents, returning around the second week of March to roost and reproduce. You'll never find a nest for these fascinating creatures. The take up residence in rocks and near caves. Ecologists believe the abandoned mining areas around Warren and Bisbee are the perfect place for vultures to hatch their young.
Raising Young Vultures
According to OwlCation.com, "The Turkey vulture is monogamous and mates for life. They don't build nests and the female typically lays two eggs between April and May. Both parents share in the incubation duties, which lasts about 40 days."
"Newborns are coated in a thick white down. It takes up to eleven weeks for the chicks to fledge, and during this period, they rely on their parents for food. Because [vultures] cannot carry food, the parents feed their young by regurgitating partially digested food."
If you'd like to see these fascinating birds up close, you'll get a chance at the Bisbee Vulture Festival. Every year, Liberty Wildlife brings live Turkey Vultures and the answers to all your questions to the Return of the Turkey Vultures festival in Warren and Bisbee.
Find out more about the Bisbee Vulture Festival: Celebrating the Return of the Turkey Vultures in Bisbee