Tracking Quiz website

Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #24 - Answer


The answer is BLACK VULTURE (see Photo 24M).

And the carcass is from an OPOSSUM, the poster child for roadkill.

Now for the surprise. This quiz was not only a test in tracking, but also AWARENESS. Yes, take another look, the answer was right in front of you in Photo 24C, the vulture is up in the tree. That was intentional, I told you to look downwards at the vegetation. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

(I was driving down the road, saw the vulture standing in the sand, and RRRRRRRTTTT, slammed on the brakes. Oh boy oh boy oh boy, I thought, a chance at looking at VULTURE tracks! Never seen vulture tracks before! Much to the annoyance of my travelling companions, I waited around until the bird flew away, then spent half an hour studying and photographing the tracks.)

In my case, I saw the bird first, so obviously did not have to guess who made the tracks. But if I hadn’t seen the bird & did have to guess, I would reason as follows:

  • The animal eats carrion.
  • The animal has 3 toes pointing forward, and one toe pointing backward. This identifies it as a bird. (The rear toe is called the "hallux"). I have outlined the track in Photo 24N since it is hard to see the details in fine sand.
  • The tracks are 4 inches long, and the bird is strong enough to drag an opossum, so this is a big bird.
  • Big bird that eats carrion = Vulture.

The tracks just as easily could have been turkey vulture, which also lives in this area. Actually a turkey vulture did descend upon the scene and spar with the black vulture for a bit before taking off again. Eagle or large hawk would also be possibilities, but vulture is more strongly associated with carrion.

I hope you enjoyed this quiz as much as I enjoyed photographing the bird & its tracks. Nature is not always pretty, but just think what it would be like if we didn’t have the vultures around to clean up the carrion.

So long for now & stay tuned for the next quiz.


Photo 24M
Photo 24N

Quiz #24 - Question      ...on to Quiz #25

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