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Home » Santa Clarita News » Environment » SCV Outdoor Report » Santa Clarita Valley Outdoor Report: Skunky Beer
Santa Clarita Valley Outdoor Report: Skunky Beer

Santa Clarita Valley Outdoor Report: Skunky Beer

Q1.   Did you every wonder why some beer bottles are brown?  A1.    To protect the beer from the unwanted effects of ultraviolet light.

Q2.   And what are the unwanted effects of ultraviolet light?  A2.    Skunky beer!

Beer contains hops, a plant material, that normally produces a pleasing flavor in beer.  But hops also contain light-sensitive chemicals known as isohumulones.  When these chemicals are exposed to ultraviolet light, they undergo photodegredation, turning into what chemists call “skunky thiol, an analog of a compound found in skunk glands that produces a very bad taste and smell. This molecule has an extremely low taste and smell threshold in humans, just a few parts per trillion.”

Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Skunk 

Q1.   In our valley, we often see Turkey Vultures soaring in circles, high in the sky, searching for carrion (dead animals) to eat.  Did you every wonder how they find their food? 

A1.    According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, “The Turkey Vulture uses its sense of smell to locate carrion. The part   of its brain responsible for processing smells is particularly large,   compared to other birds. Its heightened ability to detect odor – it can detect just a few parts per trillion—allows it to find dead animals below a forest canopy.”

Q2.   And what, exactly, does a Turkey Vulture smell?

A2.    Sulfer-containing thiols, similar to the same chemicals found in skunks spray.

According to Paul Wolterbeek in this “Live Science” website, Turkey “vultures can sniff out a dead critter from more than a mile away.  ‘They smell the unique sulphurous chemical compounds of decaying meat from high in the sky, then will circle around downwards until they find the aroma’s origin.’”

Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Turkey Vulcher

Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Turkey Vulchers Eating

You’ve heard the old saying that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”.  I guess that can also be said of smells.  That “skunky thiol” smell – we humans find it offensive in our beer – but to a Turkey Vulture it just says “dinner’s ready!”

Free App.  For those of you who are looking for a good birding app for your Apple cellphone or iPad, the Cornell Lab of Ornitholgy is offering a free app.  Click here for more information.


Upcoming Outdoor Events:  

Trail Maintenance Schedule.  Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails.  Contact Steve at for time and place.

Wednesday mornings, January 8, 15, 22, & 29.
Saturday mornings, January 18.

Saturday, January 18, 8-10 AM.  TowsleyCanyon. “Up, Up and Away”.   Along with the weather changes, find out which birds leave our region, and which birds migrate in for a visit. Beginning birders are welcome. Binoculars optional. Meet at the Towsley Canyon front parking lot.

It’s not too late to enroll in Placerita Canyon Natural Area’s Volunteer-Naturalist training program.  Classes are currently meeting at PlaceritaCanyon on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9AM to 12 Noon.  The cost for the 9 week training session is $45.  For more information, click here for the flyer, call (661) 259-7721 or e-mail  But contact them soon – the deadline for enrollment is 1/16/14.

New trail maps available.  If you’d like to explore a bit on your own, the City of Santa Clarita has a website with trail maps of our local open spaces.

There’s also a new website for bicycle riders.  

Ask Dr. Norm:  Do you have questions about the flora, fauna, animals, rocks, etc. in our Santa Clarita Valley?  Here’s a place for you to ask your questions. Dr. Norman Herr, Ph.D., is a professor of science and computer education at CaliforniaStateUniversity, Northridge.

Tell Us About Your Hike: Here’s a new website where you can post pictures, provide feedback and make suggestions about the City of Santa Clarita’s trails and open spaces.


You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to    

Or check out our Facebook page  – L.A. Mountains.





Source: Santa Clarita News

Santa Clarita Valley Outdoor Report: Skunky Beer

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