Vulture Culture
September 4, 2009 11:36 AM   Subscribe

International Vulture Awareness Day 2009 is Saturday, September 5th, but the '24 hours of vulture blogging' has already started (19:00 GMT, 11:00 MeFiTime).

"The Vulture" was one of Spider-Man's first (and most frequently revived) adversaries (how many other characters have been voiced in cartoons by Eddie Albert, Dwight Schultz and Robert Englund?)

"Vulture Capitalists" has been a common derogatory term for Venture Capitalists for years, gaining new meaning during last year's financial crash.

The vulture is the logo/mascot of snarky IT newssite The Register (previously linked 261 times on MetaFilter). And the band Them Crooked Vultures is on tour.

Oh, you mean, real vultures, like the birds? Well, like most animals with infamous images, their bad reps are mostly undeserved. But why do condors get so much better PR than their vultury relatives? Sometimes it's good to be Endangered. Anyway, much more vulture-related info here.

And that ugly bird that was a dopey foil for Bugs Bunny? He's officially a buzzard, not a vulture. Sigh. No respect.
posted by wendell (43 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Vulture Culture.
posted by Mister_A at 11:40 AM on September 4, 2009

In the New World, vultures are buzzards.
posted by yhbc at 11:40 AM on September 4, 2009

Vultures are awesome. In Tibet, they eat dead people.
posted by kldickson at 11:42 AM on September 4, 2009

See sky burial.
posted by kldickson at 11:43 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Hey, get lost you guys! My Death Risk Ranking is way too low for you to be hanging around!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:44 AM on September 4, 2009

I'm happy to notice vultures, but I'd rather they not notice me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Awareness day? How can you not be aware of them? They're always sitting there, watching me.

And waiting.
posted by rokusan at 12:02 PM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

Let us not forget the Midnite Vultures.
posted by Sailormom at 12:05 PM on September 4, 2009

Hey, get lost you guys! My Death Risk Ranking is way too low for you to be hanging around!

I was going to say that they do so to catch updrafts, but Straight Dope says that new world Cathartes aura, or turkey vultures might be sniffing out how putrid something is. They are picky eaters, lacking the strength to make their own kills but not eating really rotten stuff because of the toxins produced therein. New World turkey vulture descended from the storks and ibises with a pronounced sense of smell, while Old World vultures of Africa and Asia are descended from the hawks and eagles with essentially nonexistent olfactory capabilities. Ethyl mercaptan is added to natural gas to provide a means of leak detection from the otherwise odorless substance. Engineers were sometimes able to find pipeline leaks when turkey vultures were seen circling above the gas lines. The turkey vulture can detect concentrations in the range of parts per trillion and can discern the direction of their origin.

Another (not-so-fun) fact: in India, where cattle are revered and generally are taken to the edge of town to be devoured by vultures, a non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drug meant to keep cattle healthy has been toxic to the big birds that eat the dead cows. Wild dogs have moved in to take the vultures' place. The dogs raise the threat of rabies and other diseases, among animals and people.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:05 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Aw, I was just reading up on King Vultures for a presentation I'm going to give some home-schooled kids next month. Vultures are fantastic.

New World vultures--did you know this?--are apparently descended from STORKS. Stupid convergent evolution, ruining my cherished misconceptions...
posted by Neofelis at 12:06 PM on September 4, 2009

Hey, filthy light thief stole my thunder. Harrumph.
posted by Neofelis at 12:07 PM on September 4, 2009

I'm disappointed that this thread has nothing to do with Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, and John Paul Jones.
posted by The World Famous at 12:10 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I almost crashed my bike into a cadre of turkey vultures feasting on a carcass in the middle of a road on a rather steep hill in Ambler, PA. I still like 'em though.
posted by Mister_A at 12:13 PM on September 4, 2009

Neofelis - if it makes you feel better, you knew this fact before I did. It's news to me as of 20 minutes ago. I, too, was impressed by this bit of convergent evolution.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:15 PM on September 4, 2009

Hee hee, it's okay filthy light thief. You said it more interesting-like than I did. Vultures are so awesome.
posted by Neofelis at 12:18 PM on September 4, 2009

Do turkey vultures count? Because in my area they are cam whores who just hang there and insist on being photogenic.
posted by quin at 12:24 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh quin, what wonderful pictures!
posted by Neofelis at 12:27 PM on September 4, 2009

Snoopy used to pretend to be a vulture.
posted by jquinby at 12:33 PM on September 4, 2009

I just looked up at the sky and saw no vultures circling overhead. My vulture awareness work here is done for now.
posted by Spatch at 12:39 PM on September 4, 2009

A bit of cosmetic surgery would do worlds of good for their popularity and lovableness.
posted by Cranberry at 12:49 PM on September 4, 2009

Aegypius monachus.
posted by adamvasco at 12:52 PM on September 4, 2009

They don't circle around waiting for you to die, by the way. They wait till you're dead meat.
posted by kozad at 12:59 PM on September 4, 2009

Additionally, the turkey vulture will expel its waste on its legs in order to sanitize them after eating. Think about that next time you finish a meal.
posted by lekvar at 1:14 PM on September 4, 2009

#1, right lekvar?
posted by Mister_A at 1:17 PM on September 4, 2009

Wendell, thank you <3
posted by ginz at 1:19 PM on September 4, 2009

#1, right lekvar?

When all you've got is a cloaca there is no #1 and #2.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:19 PM on September 4, 2009

In spite of everything that should make them hideous (or perhaps because of it) I find vultures almost breathtakingly beautiful.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:42 PM on September 4, 2009

Oh, right. Well you should know, eh pollomacho?
posted by Mister_A at 1:43 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oddly I am finding no online usage in this way, but I am familiar with the word "culture vulture" being used by Native Americans to insult hippies and new agers, who come in to scrounge up the trappings of their tribal culture, as the tribe itself is being slowly destroyed - financially, culturally, and materially wiped off the face of the earth.
posted by idiopath at 1:57 PM on September 4, 2009

I dunno, what do you wanna do?
posted by tellurian at 2:01 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

vultures help bear grylls find dead zebras to eat which may or may not be a good thing.
posted by inquilab at 2:07 PM on September 4, 2009

Don't forget the Alan Parsons Project. Love that album.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:12 PM on September 4, 2009

Wait. It's International Bacon Day and Vulture Day? Is this because the carrion birds find the cured pork bellies as irresistible as us humans?
posted by hippybear at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2009

The tragic picture by Kevin Carter.
posted by tellurian at 2:40 PM on September 4, 2009

then there's the classic mobb deep track "nighttime vultures" -- instrumental here.
posted by inquilab at 3:06 PM on September 4, 2009

Patricia Nelson Limerick draws from a Larry McMurty anecdote about how Hollywood gave a bunch of buzzards learned helplessness and poor self-esteem to make a point about

the workings of [academic] habit and timidity. . . . In any and all disciplines, you go to graduate school to have your feet wired to the branch. There is nothing inherently wrong with that: scholars should have some common ground, share some background assumptions, hold some similar habits of mind. This gives you, quite literally, your footing. And yet, in the process of getting your feet wired, you have some awkward moments, and the intellectual equivalent of pitching forward and hanging upside down. That experience_especially if you do it in a public place like a seminar_provides no pleasure. One or two rounds of that humiliation, and the world begins to seem like a treacherous place. Under those circumstances, it does indeed seem to be the choice of wisdom to sit quietly on the branch, to sit without even the thought of flying, since even the thought might be enough to tilt the balance and set off another round of flapping, fainting and embarrassment. . . .
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:37 PM on September 4, 2009

Lunch is coming
Lunch is coming to us all
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:53 PM on September 4, 2009

How did I forget the Alan Parsons Project album "Vulture Culture"? (I used to sarcastically call the band Culture Club "Gorgeous George and the Culture Vultures")

Anyway, quoting from My Own Fucking Blog:

When I was in high school some 30-odd years ago, I submitted several short verse poems in the style of Ogden Nash to a school literary competition. (One was even titled “Ogden Nash, No Doubt, Is Rolling Over in His Grave”) My at-the-time-topical piece titled “The Panda” (”Just because you’re a gift from Mao / For a bear, you’re a sacred cow”) won 2nd place in Poetry, but I liked my little poem “The Vulture” better…

It’s very common in popular culture
To vent your hate at the ugly Vulture.
Negative opinions rarely vary on
Our feathered friends who feast on carrion.
But here’s a reason to not be so mean:
The vulture helps keep the landscape clean.
So please, let’s all give a great big hand
To nature’s flying garbage man.
posted by wendell at 4:10 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hey, filthy light thief stole my thunder.

He's branching out.
posted by rokusan at 5:54 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Let us not overlook the famed Vulture Squadron of Dastardly and Muttley and their Flying Machines. "Stop that pigeon!"
posted by bryon at 6:49 PM on September 4, 2009

Did you know that vultures use their vomit as a self-defense mechanism? Mmmm... a bird-bile-and-rancid-meat cocktail.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 7:49 PM on September 4, 2009

Oh. Rosemary Mosco's (Bird And Moon) Birds are Gross.
posted by ginz at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2009

« Older Nothing could be finer than outing closeted...   |   He's good enough, he's smart enough, and doggone... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments