V is for Vultures: Feathery Igors

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If you stumbled upon me through the A to Z Blog Challenge, welcome.  If not, check out the challenge and all those participating at their site.

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Our strange thing of the day is vultures.

Vultures certainly look strange.  They have bald heads and seems to have hunched shoulders and hop around awkwardly on the ground.  The one pictures above is even named Igor.  He’s a rescue and tours with a group that rescues raptors and similar birds.  They have hawks and falcons and owls, but one of my favorites is Igor the vulture.

Vultures had bald heads for cleanliness reasons.  It’s harder for something gross to grow on skin, which is easier to clean than feathers, and vultures are always sticking their beaks and heads into things that we would find gross.  But vultures also serve a very important purpose.  They’re immune to most diseases and eat dead creatures which helps cut down on the spread of disease.

Vultures are also pretty smart.  Igor, who I see at a Renaissance Festival every fall, has learned to identify not only turkey legs, but the paper they’re wrapped in.  So of course he’s always hopping down the main aisle between the benches looking to see if anyone’s dropped one.

Another strange fact about vultures is their defense mechanism.  When threatened, vultures will puke.  I imagine this is a pretty good deterrent.  What they eat started out pretty gross, so I can only imagine how much worse it would be regurgitated.

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So that’s some of the strange facts I happen to know about vultures.  It’s amazing the things you can learn at a Renaissance Festival.

Do you know any other facts about vultures?  Have you seen one up close before?

 

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6 thoughts on “V is for Vultures: Feathery Igors

  1. I love all vultures. I have worked closely with a number of species – Old World and New World – and have always been impressed by their inteligence.
    Certain traits are unique to New World vultures: food location is often (especially with the Turkey Vulture) by smell, while Old World vultures locate by sight alone. New World vultures have no syrinx (voice box), so can only make hisses and grunts. That’s not good for Hollywood, so they often use the sound of a Red-tailed Hawk’s call when showing vultures circlling overhead.
    And there’s more – so much more. But see http://www.save-vultures.org/ to look at the threats to their existence.

    Keith Channing A-Zing from http://keithkreates.com

  2. Hi! I love that you wrote about vultures for the A to Z too (there were bound to be crossovers somewhere). But I’m even more impressed that you’ve met one! The strange facts were great, I didn’t know that about the puking, it’s certainly gross but effective. Great A to Z post!

    • Igor is a treat to see in person. A little scary for anyone shy about birds because he’ll fly really low over the audience, but he’s great fun to watch. We both wrote about Quokka too didn’t we? What are the odds we’d overlap twice? Great minds must think alike.

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