Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Black Vulture

Black Vulture aka. American Black Vulture
Merritt Island, Florida, USA
Member of the Vulture Family
A Wake of Vultures

~true bird fact~ Black Vultures lack a voicebox, so their only vocalizations are rasps and grunts. Poor guys.

Has been wounded by the judgements of others
Deep down, a heart of gold
Works hard and doesn't complain
Looks like he was maybe transformed by a witch's curse
So, I've finally made good on my New Years Resolution to talk about vultures. Like all reviled birds, I find I have an extra fascination for them, and some extra sympathy. Black Vultures have been a symbol of death and an enemy of humans at least since they were appearing depicted that way in 5th Century Mayan Codices. Perhaps a lot longer than that as well. This is a bird species that has changed little since it first appeared 2.5 million years ago. Is their reputation unfairly assigned, just because they tend to hang out around rotting corpses? I think maybe yes.

Black Vultures have a significantly less keen sense of smell than their most obvious competitor, the larger Turkey Vulture. For a scavenger, this is an extremely important sense. However, Black Vultures make up for this shortcoming in a number of clever ways. They soar high above where Turkey Vultures circle and keep a close eye on their relatives. When the Turkey Vulture notices a meal, they follow. They are also smaller birds than other scavengers, and this would usually be a disadvantage when feeding, but they make up for this by working together. Black Vultures are very social birds. They stay in monogamous relationships, feed their family members, and raise chicks for a long time. Like people, they do some things we find repulsive, but also some things we would find really sweet. Perhaps we don't like Vultures because they remind us too much of ourselves. With a perspective, the amateurnithologist.

No comments:

Post a Comment