Fowl Play: Some birds have become symbols of Halloween

In the bright sunlight, this turkey vulture doesn't look nearly so sinister as its reputation. Bill Corbin got this close-up.

Dennis Bickers also has taken pictures of the resident buzzards, roosting in a tree off Canyon Lake Dr.

Another spooky specter of Halloween is the owl. This one was photographed in Canyon Lake by Bill Corbin.

Kim Longstaff presumes this barn owl ate the rather large lizard that had been living on her patio, based on the fresh pool of blood near the owl's feet – and the fact that the lizard was no more.

Roadrunners used to be a fairly common sight in Canyon Lake. Not so much anymore, but Bill Corbin did catch sight of this one on a wall in town.

This osprey is a fish-eating raptor that makes its home near the North Ski Area, as photographed by Dennis Bickers.

There is something about cormorants that residents seem to dislike more than other waterfowl. Dennis Bickers caught this one in mid-gulp!

Shy doves are rarely seen in their nests. This one was photographed by Dennis Bickers.

Hummingbirds are delightful to watch but not so easy to photograph. This one was photographed by Jessica Manning.

This hummingbird was photographed by Dennis Bickers.


With their sinister silhouettes, buzzards living in trees off Canyon Lake Dr. have become the community's annual symbol of Halloween. Also known as turkey vultures, the scavengers feed almost exclusively on dead animals; hence their dubious reputation in this haunted season.

Several photographers have taken pictures of the birds over the years. Rhonda Strickland turned her vulture photo into artwork, while Bill Corbin and Dennis Bickers got a more detailed look.

Another good “Halloween bird” is the owl, which some would consider to be even more sinister than vultures in that they snatch living creatures, including small pets, to eat as food or to feed their offspring. One resident recently reported hearing an owl attempting to take her 12-pound dog from the family's upstairs deck during the night.

In this Fowl Play photo collage, another resident submitted a photo of a barn owl just after it ate something on her patio; she suspects it was the large lizard that lived there.

All the birds in Canyon Lake, predatory or not, are valued members of the community. Keith Jenkin says, "In Canyon Lake we have many tens of bird species and many thousands of fowl; some permanent residents, some on a pit stop during migration."