26 April, 2011

A-Z Blogging Challenge: V Stands For: Vultures

Vultures, if you ask me, don't get enough respect.

(Ruppell's Griffon Vulture. SOURCE)

There are two kinds of vultures--Old World Vultures and New World Vultures, a total of 23 species. These two groups emerged through convergent evolution (when two separate populations acquire the same or similar traits), and are found on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica. Old World and New World aren't closely related, and they're only called vultures collectively because they occupy the same ecological niche.

(King Vulture. SOURCE)

Old World Vultures are part of the family Accipitridrae (which includes eagles, kites, buzzards, and hawks) and live in Africa, Asia, and Europe. These sorts of vultures find their food by sight only, and can see food up to 4 miles away.

New World Vultures, along with condors, live in the Americas. They belong to the family Cathartidae, which is part of the group of Accipitriformes. Several New World Vulture species have a good sense of smell and can scent their prey up to 1 mile.

(Egyptian Vulture. SOURCE)

The thing I don't get is why it's always the vulture who has the part of the bringer of death (and they don't actually hover over an animal that's about to die, though they will kill the sick and weak who would die anyway), symbolizes approaching doom, represents evil, shrieks and screams at the good guys, and all that other very charismatic stuff.

(Turkey Vulture. SOURCE)

So they eat dead things. Heck, they're not the only creatures in the animal kingdom who eat food that's been sitting around for a while. Scavengers actually help clean up the planet--without them, carcasses and bodies would simply hang around to rot and decay. But when it's eaten by something like a vulture, that problem is eliminated and all that's left are bone fragments and maybe a few scraps for other scavengers to pick up. Animals fed, body gone.

Isn't that a good thing?



And if you'd like to learn about International Vulture Awareness Day, go HERE.


So, what do you think of vultures? Love or hate? Pests, or helpful cleanup crew?

-----The Golden Eagle


Old Kitty said...

Oh how on earth could anyone hate vultures?? Vultures are beautiful majestic birds!! They are nature's clean up gang. They are magnificent wonderful birds!!!! Yay for Vultures!! :-) Take care

Reece said...

While vultures may not circle an animal, waiting for it to die, they do circle a carcass, waiting for the predator or other, stronger scavengers to leave. In that respect, there is some literal truth to the myth: you can tell where an animal has been killed because of the carrion birds circling above it. I think that's probably the root of the vulture's infamy and symbolism.

It also doesn't help that the Skexis from The Dark Crystal are, presumably, modeled after them.

Talli Roland said...

Wow, I never knew so much about vultures! Thanks for the info - they are certainly fearsomely beautiful creatures.

Sarah said...

I had no idea there was an International Vulture Awareness Day.

Emily Rose said...

We have a half a dozen vultures that sit up in our oak tree and look down at you.

laughingwolf said...

i'm all for cleanup crews... who wants to see dead bodies all over the place? ;) lol

Michael Di Gesu said...

What a terrific tribute to our scavenger friend. I must admit some are quite beautiful looking animals.

Organic Author said...

Although I learned a lot about vultures from your post, I still can't get over the way they look. I suppose today's society does give vultures a bad rap, but it doesn't help that they are kind of disgusting...

Clarissa Draper said...

I have seen a few vultures and they are truly amazing birds. They do circle overhead (I don't know what they're circling) but they're so big!

ali said...

I never thought I'd say this, but yay for vultures! ;)

TheyCallMeVarmit said...

Vultures are awesome. Have always thought most of them are so pretty.

The local buzzards though..eww. If you've ever gotten vomited on by one, you probably wouldn't appreciate them so much. Handy birds, but nasty.

Great post!

Pearson Report said...

I think if there was one extra thing I could add to my bucket list, that was doable, it would be to soar like a bird. (not hang-glide - just simple soar, free and unrestrained)

What amazing photos.

I always enjoy my stop at your site - I come away feeling like I've topped up my ever diminishing memory bank! (gets like that when you get older - be forewarned!)

Happy Thoughts,

Josh Hoyt said...

I love vultures they are amazing birds. They are huge as well. Thanks for the greater detail about them.

Joyce Lansky said...

Beautiful birds. There's a lot more to vultures than I ever thought about.


Trisha said...

Vultures are birds, and I love birds! So there you go!

Vicki Rocho said...

They still kinda creep me out. I'm glad they do what they do, I just don't want to see it -- or think about it much.

Alleged Author said...

I always loved the vultures in Disney's "Robin Hood." :P Nutsy never failed to crack me up when I was a kid.

Heather Henry said...

I always think of them as the cleaners. Although, I have to say when they start circling overhead I begin to wonder. haha!

Susan Fields said...

I've never given much thought to vultures before, but you're right, they do have a bad reputation. I'd have to agree on the helpful cleanup crew point. And thanks for sharing the photos - they're great!

The Golden Eagle said...

Old Kitty: I agree. :)

Reece: True--they do circle carcasses on the ground. And I guess it makes sense that it would be interpreted somewhere along the line that they predict death. :P

I've never heard of the Skexis.

Talli: Anytime! :)

Fearsome, definitely.

Sarah: Yup--it seems like there's an Awareness day for almost every cause. (Not that that's a bad thing!)

Emily: Even if they don't hunt people, there is something disturbing at looking at large dark bird, isn't there?

Laughingwolf: Not me!

Michael: Thank you!

I like the griffin vulture especially--the white and tan colored feathers don't look much at all like the stereotypical black.

Organic Author: They do have some unsavory habits, but they aren't the only ones who stick their heads into carcasses--you could probably find examples of vulture behavior across the animal kingdom.

Clarissa: There are a lot (relatively) of vultures around here--it's true they are big!

Ali: LOL. ;)

TheyCallMeVarmit: I've never seen a buzzard up close, or been vomited on by one--so I don't know what that's like. :P


The Golden Eagle said...

Jenny: I'd love to soar, too. :)

Well, I'm glad you enjoy my posts! I love writing them up--and reading the response in the comments just makes my day.

Josh: Can you believe how big birds like condors get? 2.9 meters!

You're very welcome!

Joyce: They're intriguing creatures--even if they do have a few habits people find strange. :P

Trisha: Awesome! :)

Vicki: I don't often think about it, either. I just don't think they deserve all the evilness they represent in popular culture.

Alleged: I've never seen that film, but it sounds funny. :D

Heather: Not many birds circle like that, it's true--except for other scavengers and migrating birds.

Susan: Without vultures, there would be carcasses scattered in a lot of places that people really don't want them.

Anytime! I'm glad you liked the pics.

laughingwolf said...

figgered so! ;) lol

[not like my tale from yesterday?]

Charles Gramlich said...

I love to watch them soar. But up close they is ugly!

The Golden Eagle said...

Laughingwolf: No, it's not that! I haven't been getting around to as many blogs lately 'cause of some stuff that's going on.

I have got to catch up.

Charles: Some of them are a bit . . . repulsive. :P