Friday, May 01, 2009

What I saw meandering around...

A better pic of the cactus flowers... got this pic when I got home at 6:30 pm yesterday.

and now that I've softened you up with a pretty flower pic... here's something that isn't quite so pretty... Black Vultures. If you can get past their dining habits, they're actually fascinating animals...
And if that isn't creepy enough, they're dining outside the Rehoboth cemetery...

The Black Vulture isn't quite as shy as the larger Turkey Vulture. We do see these a bit further in town.
Vultures are gregarious birds, often nesting in groups of up to a hundred, which split off in pairs to look for food during the day. Often Turkey vultures and Black vultures will share the same nesting areas. They're very clumsy on the ground, but are fantastic flyer's. While they prefer fresh meat, they can eat meat that has started to decompose... primarily because there is not a single known microbe that can survive their digestive tract. There is enough remaining stomach acid in their droppings that it is antiseptic... and if they do get a scratch or cut on their faces or feet while digging through a carcass, they use their own droppings to sanitise it... Other than this habit, they're actually very clean birds, spending much time grooming their glossy feathers.
All rather gross, I know, but they are rather interesting birds which perform a very neccesary function in the wild.
And extremely hard to photograph... they're smarter than you'd think. These were fine as long as I stayed in my truck, but the minute I pulled my door handle they recognised the sound and took off. I'm on the Northern edge of the Black vultures territory, the Turkey Vulture, with dark brown plumage and a red neck and head is larger, shyer of humans, and also common here.
There are some people who can't get past the bias against their dining habits, and sometimes shoot vultures on sight, only to find out that these species are protected under the migratory bird laws, and that they can be fined up to $1500 per bird.


  1. Vultures really do get a bad rap! This is interesting info, Claude! I didn 't realize they were protested like that!

  2. Well, at least the cactus flowers are pretty! Is that an Echinopsis? Interesting info on vultures. We always called them buzzards. I'll need to check to see if there is a difference.