What is it? The Iowa DNR shared this photo on Facebook — and, boy, did the agency get some responses.
What is it? The Iowa DNR shared this photo on Facebook — and, boy, did the agency get some responses.
I had written a column on another topic, almost completed, when I saw something that shouted out to me in its timeliness that it should run first.

The turkey vultures have returned from wherever the heck they migrate and spend their winters. They're back here in Preston. And as opposed to robins, I (and many others) feel turkey vultures are the true sign that spring has arrived.

I wandered across and "liked" the Iowa DNR (Department of Natural Resources) site on Facebook, since I am an Iowa native and former 40-plus-year resident. I looked through recent postings, and there it was - a big, full-color photo of a turkey vulture in all its black-body and blood-red-headed glory.

The photo was posted on March 19 and stated, "One of the surest signs of spring in Iowa is when this critter returns. What is it?"

That prompted all kinds of answers of love and hate and humor. Before I share some, let me note I saw my first turkey vulture of the year on April 6, flying over the grain elevator on the South Branch of the Root River in Preston. It's a favorite perch. For comparison, I noted the return of lots of turkey vultures on March 28 last year. (That says to me, as if you didn't know it, it was a long, hard winter.)

OK, now for some responses to the photo question. I've placed them in an order I felt increased any comedic value. (Yeah, I'm trying to get in the running for any late night talk show slots. Darn CBS for choosing David Letterman's replacement so fast!)

And here we go...

• Turkey vulture.

• The road kill vulture.

• Turkey buzzard.

• Vulture!

• TV.

• Ugly ol' turkey buzzard.

• Turkey buzzard. They sit on the cell tower north of town every year.

• The beautiful turkey vulture... I saw one today!

• A venue of vultures.

• How do they cool themselves? Anyone?

• The vulture pees down its leg of course.

• Nasty turkey buzzard!

• My fav bird! The turkey vulture! Can't wait to see them all back.

• Chicken buzzard or a so-called turkey vulture.

• Turkey vultures, ughhh.

• We never used to see them this far east of the Mississippi - in Cherry Valley, Belvidere, Ill. Now they are further east and we like that. Cool to see them soaring and good carcass disposal system.

• You can have all the ones in Tennessee, too!

• Buzzard! I am looking for them to arrive.

• Ugly! LOL.

• Turkey vulture - did not know they were a sign of spring.

• Vultures. We usually have 25-50 sunning in our trees, but I haven't seen them yet.

• Ugly.

• The turkey vulture, eater of road kill.

• Ugly?

• Dump eagle.

• I would like to have a few trained to rent for weddings, etc. etc.

• Turkey vulture. No other bird is less attractive.

• Rendering machine.

• Dirty bird.

• A politician.

• Presidential candidate?

• Terry Branstad?

• Barrack Obama?

• Looks sort of like a Republican?

• Check out that sexy, over-the-shoulder pose!

• Mothman.

• Hillbilly coroner!

• I think it's an angel if it brings spring with it.

And there you have it. Hope one or two responses gave you a chuckle. Just remember to put in a good word for me when the networks come calling.

May all your turkey vulture ventures be pleasant!