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Monday, October 4, 2010

The Buzzard Air Show

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is renowned for its epic natural beauty and the outdoor musical TEXAS! - but did you know there is another show (of sorts) that takes place nightly at the southern end of the canyon? Local photographers call it "The Buzzard Air Show."

Each year thousands of tourists are drawn to Palo Duro Canyon State Park to take in its beauty - but a group of local photographers and bird watchers have discovered an amazing phenomenon that many never knew existed.

It's been nicknamed The Buzzard Air Show and takes place at sunset - every evening near the Cow Camp Cabins at the southern end of the park. Like a scene out of Hitchcock's "The Birds" - thousands of Turkey Vultures descend on a small group of trees to roost for the night.

For hours - vultures fly into the canyon from all over the Panhandle - filling the sky by the hundreds. The mature birds land first- seemingly acting like air-traffic-controllers - spreading their wings to signal to the orbiting vultures it's time to land.

Ugly and ungainly on the ground but beautiful in the air - these vultures ride the thermals over the mesas in graceful arcs until the last light of day is almost gone, then they descend in waves - all vying and squabbling over the best perches, much to the delight of local photographers.

The Buzzard Air Show begins every night about an hour before sundown with the last of the birds touching down just after dark. There is no charge for the Buzzard Air Show - but there is to enter the park - five dollars per person - well worth it to watch this amazing natural spectacle.

Viewers are advised to bring a camera, binoculars, lawn chairs and an umbrella - because some of the air show participants - uh - can become bombers.

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