When I first began to plan this road trip I actually laughed out loud when I read reports about the vultures that were eating the rubber off of cars in the Everglades. I thought that someone was pranking me, even though there was a huge warning about the mischievous birds on the official National Park Service website. So I did what I usually do when I need the most accurate information – I went local. And indeed several of my Florida hiker friends indicated that this was a big problem, and more than a few folks shared their tales of woe with me about having to replace their windshield wiper blades after an Everglades day trip.
And not only were the dirty birds eating windshield wiper blades, but they were also devouring the rubber seals around windows and sunroofs. Granted I could live with having to run to Pep Boys to replace some damaged windshield wiper blades on the road, but since I have a sunroof (which the birds seems to particularly like) I decided that some precautions were in order for our sojourn through the Everglades.
So after doing a little research I reluctantly shelled out $25 for a cheap car cover. I wasn’t too thrilled about the purchase, but I figured that it was definitely cheaper than having to have my sunroof repaired. Couple that with the fact that we will probably hit some rain in the Midwest on our journey back to California (which would be miserable with a leaky sunroof), and that made the car cover purchase all that more palatable.
But when we arrived at the Royal Palm Visitor Center – ground zero for these pesky birds – there was nary a vulture in sight. There were a few cars in the parking lot, (one which was covered) as well as a stack of neglected “vulture tarps” and bungee cords near the main building. Still, we purchased the car cover, so we put it on – it only took a few minutes and it was a small price to pay for peace of mind.
We had a nice hike and returned to the parking lot to find the area again vulture-free. There was however one crow who seemed to really like our car cover. He was perched on our roof and kind of rubbing his belly on it. Who knows, it probably felt good to him. He was visibly miffed when we removed the car cover, and he gave us a good scolding after we packed it away.
Upon returning to our lodging for the night, I decided to do a little more research on the vultures. It appears that the National Park Service website neglected to mention that the varmints are seasonal. Like the snowbirds they fly south for the winter and return home near the end of March. So we missed them by a matter of days. Still I’m glad we purchased the car cover as we can also use it for our sap season at our mountain home.
Bottom line – if you visit the Everglades between October and March, be prepared for the vultures. Otherwise, you’re probably good to go.