Restaurant for Vultures
May 10, 2022 6:00 AM   Subscribe

That was a really nice comic, thanks for sharing!
posted by sixswitch at 6:23 AM on May 10

This is what happens when airlines charge extra for carrion luggage.

But seriously, hoorah for the vultures! I love watching a kettle of turkey vultures in the summer sky and am so rooting for these Himalayan and Cinerous vultures.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:24 AM on May 10 [18 favorites]

This is great, thank you!
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:28 AM on May 10

Neat! I'd never heard of that before, though the strip says people were doing it elsewhere in the 1960s.
posted by pangolin party at 7:29 AM on May 10

In another place, another time, I turned over the key 19thC birder question [In the blue corner JJ Audubon; in the red corner Charles Waterton] about whether vultures smell. [auto puff alert]
posted by BobTheScientist at 7:43 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]

I love my local black and turkey vultures, and we have no seeming shortage - there is so much roadkill I bet they never need a cow carcass around here. The story of the precipitous decline of the South Asian populations based on things people were doing for ag reasons is so depressing, I am glad there is active conservation going on.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 8:19 AM on May 10

There is a really interesting paper here on how diclofenac, a common NSAID, ends up damaging vultures' renal systems and killing them. It goes into some cultural reasons to explain how the drug ends up in vulture food supplies in India and Pakistan, why vultures are a vital part of the ecosystem, as well as the less-understood, underlying biological mechanisms of poisoning once the drug is consumed, along with suggestions for alternative medicines, such as meloxicam.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:43 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]

One thing that caught my eye in that paper was just how slowly these birds reproduce, which makes breeding and conservation centers less useful for increasing populations than changing away from agricultural use of diclofenac.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:48 AM on May 10

This is neat. (I was expecting Greta Alfaro's In Ictu Oculi based on the title.)
posted by eotvos at 9:23 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]

They can borrow the ones that have destroyed my entire outside area at my condo with child rearing and ummmm, bathroom stuff. I've learned to not be afraid of them because I know they aren't mean, and we need them, but WHEW do they make spaces unlivable when they inhabit them.
posted by lextex at 9:37 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]

We visited a bunch of National Parks in the west a few years ago, and one night at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon the ranger program was on turkey vultures. We kept an eye out for them after that, and I particularly remember driving through an area recovering from a small wildfire earlier that season and seeing at least a half dozen of them circling overhead near the road.

But that's nothing compared to the day I was walking around our neighborhood in DC and had a vulture land on the grass between the sidewalk and the street, only ten feet ahead of me. Scared the fuck out of me as it came down, but then it just sat on the grass and gave me the eye as I walked past. Somebody in the neighborhood posts occasional pictures of a red tailed hawk that lives nearby, but nobody else has ever mentioned a vulture encounter like the one I had.
posted by fedward at 7:16 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]

I've loved vultures ever since an awful red tide episode hit the area I lived in in Tampa, aaaages ago. I am deeply phobic of fish - especially dead fish - and for what seemed like forever (but was probably just a few days) the waters were utterly choked with the poor things. I remember the turkey vultures lining the roofs of every home in our waterfront neighborhood. I suppose it looked a little grim to some, but to me, every fish they ate made life a little more livable again.

What a delightful comic. So glad those vultures are getting tasty fresh lungs and legs.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:30 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]

but WHEW do they make spaces unlivable when they inhabit them.

"Awww, they're just like us!"
posted by porpoise at 9:43 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]

US vultures are only tiddlers, though.* 6 foot wingspan? Pshaw! Cinereous vulture has a 10ft span. They are truly huge birds.

The decline of vulture species due to diclofenac is one of the most depressing recent environmental stories from a veritable buffet of depressing stories.

* not including condors, admittedly, those are pretty big
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 5:26 AM on May 11

It can be hard to decide which conservation plans will yield the best results, but sometimes you just have to say phuket and go with your gut.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 8:53 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

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