Wednesday, June 18, 2008

V is for Vulture

V is for Vulture. And this is Coragyps atratus, the American black vulture, soaring the skies where I am working today. How timely that the V in ABC Wednesday fell on a day full of vultures. Look at those wing tips - like fingers. A five foot wing span is not uncommon.

This pair soaring into the waterfall - pure poetry of motion and a dance with death. One split second of aerodynamic miscalculation and those plumes of water would crush them instantly. I wonder what they're looking for in those turbulent chutes of water.

A gray, overcast sky full of vultures -- ominous yet beautiful. Circling, spiraling, soaring -- absolute grace from faraway.

Black vultures are more apt to congregate and feed together than their turkey cousins. According to Wikipedia:

The American Black Vulture also occasionally feeds on livestock or deer. It is the only species of New World vulture which preys on cattle. It occasionally harasses cows which are giving birth, but primarily preys on new-born calves. In its first few weeks, a calf will allow vultures to approach it. The vultures swarm the calf in a group, then peck at the calf's eyes, or at the nose or the tongue. The calf then goes into shock and is killed by the vultures. It is known to regurgitate when approached or disturbed, which assists in predator deterrence and taking flight by decreasing its takeoff weight. Like all New World Vultures, the American Black Vulture often defecates on its own legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces and/or urine to cool itself, a process known as urohydrosis.[2] It cools the blood vessels in the unfeathered tarsi and feet, and causes white uric acid to streak the legs.

V is for Vulture. W is for Where - where in the world am I today? Can anyone guess? There are plenty of clues. These cathartidae being one of them.

ABC Wednesday is at Mrs. Nesbitt's Place


Powell River Books said...

I don't have a clue about where you are, but your vulture pictures are awesome. The one in flight is really great. I see vultures once in a while here, but not often. We do have lots of bald eagles though. I chose V is for vegetables from my floating garden. I invite you to come see. -- Margy

Petunia said...

Aweome shots:)
Great choice too!!

Petnia's ABC

photowannabe said...

Perfect choice for the letter V. We seem to have many turkey vultures around. There wing span is so large.

Anonymous said...

fantastic V post. well done

mrsnesbitt said...

What a plight. I never understood how the vultures operated.

kjpweb said...

Good ABC 'V". No idea where you are - giving the vegetation and the huge waterfall I'd say South or Middle America.
Cheers, Klaus

Mary said...

Thanks for the information, Tim. I admit to being shocked a bit...I've never read about BVs but have watched them. Funny, I've always seen TVs flock together on rooftops - maybe a dozen at a time.

Watching a vulture is amazing. Your photos rock.

I have no idea where you might be.

Lana Gramlich said...

Vultures, while ungainly on the ground & hideous in appearance, have to be the most beautiful soarers I've ever seen.

Doug Taron said...

I had to look very carefully at the vegetation in the picture. Clearly tropical. Your itinerary sasys that you will be in Rio about now. Must be Iguazu falls.

Mary said...

You're hilarious ;-)

Jean Warner said...

Having read everyone's comments, I now know I'll never pass for a bird lover. I'm guessing Mexico. I just hope you - and those creepy vultures (sorry) - are far from here. Speaking of home, when are you next around? The sunroon is finished and a copy of Scott Weidensaul's "Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding" is beside the chaise lounge. :-)

Crayons said...

These are wonderful shots. I remember your saying recently that you have kind of run out of words for praise on people's posts. Wonderful, beautiful, (exclamation point), breathtaking, arresting, awesome. It's hard for me to put accurate words on my reactions, so prone are we as Americans to hyperbole.

I guess if I were from England, I'd say that there are quite nice.

Be well.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant blog, I hadn't come across before during my searches!
Carry on the wonderful work!


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