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06 August 2017


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Vultures have evolved heads w/o feathers so they can stick them inside decaying animals without their heads getting covered in decay.

Both vultures and komodo dragons, who also eat carrion, are particularly immune to disease. Biologists are analyzing their blood in hopes of finding new antibiotics.

I don't know why the different head color schemes--red, black, golden for the King vultures. Also I don't know why the black wings--you'd think black would be for absorbing energy, but vultures are found in hot territory. Why don't they get too hot as they're soaring, wings outstretched like solar collectors?

SAC Brat

Not a bird I like but I do admire how they will work together down here in Georgia to drag roadkill off the road so they can eat interrupted by traffic.

When carcasses are on the road often one bird in a group will be indecisive when traffic is approaching and get hit while trying to take off. Xin loi.

My favorite birds to watch are hawks above pastures nearby and I really like watching them when they see a target and get down to business. The cardinal families are fun to identify and watch too at our back porch feeder.


I always found the Tirkey Vultures to be vey efficient in cleaning up the small road kill on back roads. When flying/soaring with full wing span a very beautiful bird till it lands and you get a close look. Interesting that it is federally protected, not sure I understand why as they seem quite abundant in the Southeast. A friend tells the story of his neighbor who flies the dawn and dusk patrol up and down the local river that he swears by these buzzards as they direct him to the floaters much quicker than anything else.

Suggest hitting them with the water hose as you don't want them around the yard as they make a mess.

Keith Harbaugh

Care to tell us what SWMBO stands for?
I know what google says it stands for, but you may have your own meaning.



She Who Must Be Obeyed. SWMBO (my bride). pl

SAC Brat

Uninterrupted. My kids were pestering me with computer/Microsoft problems.


Two quick stories, first, in San Diego the Natural History Museum in Balboa Park used to get all the animals that died at the S.D. Zoo. On the roof of the Museum there were ten or twelve vultures in cages to finish taking the meat off the bones, without breaking the bones. Second, we live half the year in Ennis, Montana, and across the street from us are four or five large fir trees, turkey vultures nest in these trees every night. If not in these trees then in the ones behind us, just across the alley.


I knew them as zopilotes in Mexico:


Fascinating that they're now in ¿VA?


Spent a half hour today watching pelicans and caspian terns dive bombing the water for sardines. They were harassed by the vultures of the sea, the gulls, trying to steal their lunch. Against the terns they met with some success. But the pelicans stood fast, hard to pickpocket their pouch I guess. Maybe the gulls were just hoping for some backwash.


Turkey Vultures, have them here in our Oklahoma farm wilderness. If there are 3 or more together, I start using caution. They're not something to be played with. Make great disease control, and keep the natural litter cleaned up.

I've always had respect for them and the coyotes, as they help keep the diseases at bay. I've both transiting my square of Heaven every day, I leave them alone and they leave me alone. If I loose a calf, I drag it off into the wilderness area and the coyotes and vultures feast on the dead, leaving the living alone.

God's great balance in things.


About 25 years ago in central Virginia a young woman was abducted and killed when her car broke down. After her body was found her father said, thank God for vultures.

A. Pols

its a takeoff from H. Rider Haggard's adventure stories of the late 1800s entitled "She" about a savage tribe ruled by a mysterious white Queen.."She who must be obeyed". The story was replete with accounts of those who failed to obey and what became of them.
I read his stuff as a boy back in the fifties and the term has stuck.



Similar to Tibetan monks sky burial.


A. Pols

Thanks for the explanation. Do you suppose Rumpole had read Haggard? pl

Eric Newhill

When I worked for the bureau of land management I escorted some biologists to a site where I knew turkey vultures roosted. They wanted to capture vultures for some esoteric reason I have long forgotten. I sat comfortably watching in the shade of a cottonwood tree while they set up their space age trap. This was a big net, maybe 40 feet in diameter, with rocket boosters at 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees. I had suggested setting a simple trap using a bait carcass + snare design, but they dismissed my idea with palpable disdain. I now tried to discern in what manner and form Murphy's law would make it's inevitable intrusion.

The was low over the mountains when the first 5 or 6 vultures arrived home to roost and the trap was sprung. The rockets fired more or less together and the net began its ascent, slowly, then slightly less slowly like a massive sinewy jelly fish, wobbling almost gracefully to 30 feet in the air, then a little more. With equal wobbly near grace the vultures began their escape up from the tree. The net appeared to gain on them for a moment. Just a moment. An unlikely ungainly object challenging, briefly, an unlikely ungainly bird. But the rockets had achieved peak thrust too soon and just as they started to fade the vultures got their rhythm and made their way to freedom. Up went the vultures and down went the net with sputtering smoking rockets.

This was basically repeated three more times.

Maybe you had to be there, but I can't see vultures to this day without chuckling over that incident (almost 30 years ago).


My guess is definitely, Sir.


An age thing, actually. Factor in the short essay by G McD Fraser to his wildly successful "Flashman" novels about the heroes of British imperialism in the XIX Century and a taste of the dominant narrative can be observed. Perhaps like Iwo Jima?


And the Zoroastrians. Unfortunately their religion will become practically extinct in a few generations as there are only around 60K of them in western India and half that number in central Iran. Their birth/death ratio in India is 1:5.



Like Iwo Jima? Perhaps you should go back to Mexico. You are not here yet. pl



Rumpole is a fictional character. pl


Ravens are the most road wise birds I can think of. One time I was driving north from the San Francisco Bay Area on 101 early in the morning, before much traffic was on the road. Wherever there was road kill there were ravens feeding in twos and threes. They knew exactly what the situation was with my approaching car. They didn't waste any energy flying, they just hopped to the other side of the shoulder line until the interruption was over. That got me thinking of another drive I took along that same route when there were five deer carcasses on the road. The conceptual world of the raven is far advanced over that of the deer.

different clue

I lived till age 15 in Knoxvilled, Tennessee and did birdwatching there from age 10 or so upward. Black vultures were always about a third as common as turkey vultures there. I remember the one place where I could expect to see fair numbers of black vultures in among the bunches of turkey vultures was in Cades Cove.

Some years later, when living in Cortland, New York, I saw a black vulture soaring overhead; displaying its various obvious differences from the turkey vulture when seen soaring overhead. It was way farther north then expectable, but the senior bird people had to accept the possibility. A black vulture was accepted to have been seen at Derby Hill that same year.

Bill H

"These are not pretty birds." I cannot really disagree, and yet...

Nature is endlessly fascinating, and has a beauty all of its own. We had a cat who was as affectionate and gentle as could be at home, but when we took him to the vet he turned into a nightmare. As soon as they opened the carrier he went into killer mode; ears back, teeth displayed, hissing and snarling. It upset SWMBO enormously, but I rather enjoyed the display of just what a beautifully designed killer the feline animal is.

Needless to say, the vet enjoyed it a whole lot less than I did.


Colonel, are those the same Vultures hovering over our constitutional government, in your neck of the woods, around the beltway, if so please shoot them down.


I owned a farm on the Dumas, Missouri side of the Des Moines River in the 1980's. There was a towering sycamore tree on banks of the river fertilized by several feet of buzzard shit. The buzzard tree was roost for thirty or forty turkey buzzards.

At dawn the buzzards flapped up till they caught the morning thermals. They glided in different directions, searching the surrounding counties for gut shot deer and diseased cattle. They returned each evening, spiraling down in a vortex of buzzards.

I will never forget the sight of the daily cycle of the turkey buzzard vortex on the banks of the Des Moines River.

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