Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vulture

Normally when vultures descend it isn't a good sign. Vultures survive by scavenging carcasses. If they are swooping low it may mean you are on your last legs.

A case in point is a participant in the A-Z challenge. By the time we reach V we are twitching and muttering and heading under darkening skies down the crow road. Here I am mixing metaphors and scavengers but it's all the path of death.

 
Culture Vulture (H Zell)


In my novel Red Savannah, which is presently languishing in the waste baskets of half a dozen agents who I got round to sending it to, the vultures are seen low in the sky as an African adventure turns tragic.

In reality I'm not so sure if vultures can sense the approach of death, although they can certainly hone in on it once it has occurred. However, it's not unknown for vultures to attack sick and dying animals and they swarm over battlefields in large numbers.

They are also attuned to the demise of careers such as that of Rolf Harris

There are essentially two kinds of vultures - Old World Vultures associated with Asia and Africa and New World Vultures found in the Americas.

Old World vultures are not closely related to the New World Vultures. While the American vultures detect carrion by their keen sense of smell, which kicks in as far as a mile away, the Old World Vultures rely on eyesight.

A particular characteristic of many vultures is their bald heads, devoid of feathers. This helps the vulture remain clean when its head is shoved in a zebra carcass. Anything dead, really.

The largest of vultures is the Andean Condor which has a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet. I can never think of the Andean Condor without a mental image of folks wearing brightly colors blankets and blowing pan pipes coming to mind.

 
The Condor (Ester Inbar)



There are a few misconceptions about vultures but I'm not going to tell you they aren't badass. Get a budgie if you have any doubts.

And while it's not true that vultures' projectile vomit' on their attacker as a deliberate defense, this may be a distraction technique and it's a lot easier to fly away after jettisoning your lunch. Don't try this on Delta, even though you may want to when you see what's on the menu.

Vultures have played a part in some funerary rites. In the Zoroastrian tradition, the dead were put in towers, later described as the 'Towers of Silence' by an Englishman, and pecked by the vultures. This tradition continued into the 20th Century in Bombay.

Little Known Fact About the Vulture

A project called "Vulture Restaurant" is presently underway in Nepal to address the dwindling number of vultures. The "restaurant" is an open grassy area where naturally dying, sick, and old cows are fed to the vultures

What Not To Say to a Vulture

I'm dying to go to lunch

24 comments:

  1. They aren't the most attractive of birds, are they.

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  2. There were always a few vultures around my parents' house when I was growing up. I found them interesting and my young mind thought they were exotic looking.

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    1. I know Patricia - they do make me think of the African plains.

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  3. I am sorry to hear about Rolf Harris. I have the 45 of Kangaroo Down.

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  4. Sorry to hear of your novel's languishing status. I hope a vulture flies good news back to you one of these days.

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    1. Thanks Jean - am about to shove it on the back of a vulture or somewhere else; may have more luck..

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  5. We have a lot of turkey vultures around here. They are ugly, but they are so pretty and graceful when they circle in the sky. They are nature's morticians. They are a sign of spring here because they go south for the winter and then return generally in the middle of March.

    I hope someone picks up your novel and offers to represent you soon. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Daisy - that is true re vultures. They are a lot more graceful when in flight.

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  6. Poor old Rolphie. I'll never forget his wobble board - not the best musical instrument, but he used it with enthusiasm!
    I don't think I've ever seen a vulture...and hope not to any time soon.

    Good luck with the manuscript

    I'm stuttering along and am now up to P - I might even make it to the end sometime next month!
    cheers
    Sue

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    1. Good luck Sue hope you make it - I think it was his wobble board that got him in trouble (allegedly) :)

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  7. I really do feel like a vulture will come swooping for me any moment now. 3 more days!

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    1. Just two more posts to go Dee - party time :)

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  8. Nice Blogpost! Thanks for that snippet of information about the Vulture.

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    1. always like vulture facts Sunday Visitor - thanks for visiting on a Friday.

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  9. I'm sorry, I'm still speechless after reading about the vulture restaurant. How...disgusting...I mean, I know it's necessary and stuff, but seriously. So glad I never chose a career path that would require me to run that road kill cafe.

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    1. on the short list for when we do lunch Jen lol

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  10. I'm not sure ill be visiting that restaurant in Nepal anytime soon, yuk!

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    1. I hear the vegi option is good Rowena :)

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  11. I love the title of your novel, hope one of those agents comes through soon.
    And yes, the challenge does feel like the path of death at this point. :D

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    1. Thanks Julie - gawd am hopeful - two more days eh?

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  12. They are also attuned to the demise of careers such as that of Rolf Harris - I know. How can one ever listen to "Two little boys" again and take it seriously.

    The only time I liked vultures was in Jungle Book!

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    1. haha Juliette - like you took it seriously the first time, certainly not now eek. sorry you are not fond of them.

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