B and I started our walk the other evening and could not help but notice a large bunch of buzzards flying high and not-so-high over our neighborhood. With a bit of work (they won't be still, you know), we determined there were approximately fifty of them.
It sounds likes a bad sign, doesn't it?-- to see so many vultures in your neighborhood. Actually, we see an influx of turkey and black vultures during the winter and it is not all that uncommon to see the tree tops full of them as they warm themselves in the sun on a cool morning.
I remarked that they were being drawn by the stinkhorns (those crazy- looking orange fungi) that had popped up in the bulb/rose bed out near the street. You can see from the large magnolia leaf and the sweetgum leaves that they are not very big but
they smell horrible and it doesn't take much breeze to carry the odor. They definitely attract insects, especially flies, which are their pollinators. They get that green goo (spore slime) on their legs and spread it to other stinkhorns. The odor has been compared to that of carrion. So why not attract buzzards? All fifty of them!
Clathrus columnatus is also known as octopus stinkhorn, deadman's fingers, and Devil's nose. I love those fanciful names. Beneath the mulched ground level is a white ball that reminds me of a turtle egg. It is actually called the egg of the stinkhorn and is the fungus at its earliest stage. The orange part grows from this.
The odor will last for days. We shovel up all that we find and carry them across the cul-de-sac to the woods.
The many frogs that live there just may appreciate a few extra bugs in their neighborhood.