Saturday, September 05, 2009

My name is Earl, and I am a Turkey Vulture.

My name is Earl, and I am a Turkey Vulture.
I heard about this big event thing today on Facebook (yeah, I have an account. Who doesn't??).
Supposedly, this is International Vulture Awareness Day. Well. I say, it's about TIME.
People just don't understand how cool we are.

We are so cute when we are young....
This is me at a few months old. Have you seen a cuter baby than that??

I'm 24 years old now, and I'm still such a looker....
Big ol earl and me
...but I sure do hate that red-headed woman. I hate all women, but I hate this one the most.

She just keeps trying to buy my love with toys stuffed with dead mice, and gives me puzzle boxes stuffed with dead mice, and phone books that I am allowed to shred all that I want and I don't get in trouble. She wants me to stand on her arm ( if) but I just puke on her and hang upside down. That's how I pout.

(Psst. I will let you in on a little secret, okay? Don't tell that red-headed woman, but I actually really like her gifts. But we can't let her's more fun to watch her try and try...)

You people think that vultures are just stinky scavengers who puke on everything. Well, I am here to set you straight.

best earl closeup

We vultures do the world a service with our scavenging. We eat all that dead, smelly, germ-laden stuff that no one else will touch. We clean up the world. If it weren't for vultures and other scavengers, your world would be a slimy, foul, unhealthy place.
And since we eat stuff that would kill other animals if they tried to eat it, we have cool adaptations that allow us to process it. We have stomach acid strong enough to kill anthrax, and our poop is really a sanitizing agent that kills all kinds of bacteria. Since we really get into our food (honest, we get INTO our we will step into a dead carcass to get to the really juicy bits) we get covered with all sorts of germy slime. So we poop on our legs and that makes us all clean. See? We are neat.

And that thing about puking?
Yeah, we do it. So what?
Everyone is so disgusted by that. Well, we do it when we are threatened, so you will go away. And if you notice, it works.

Our soaring skills are the best. We can soar for hours without flapping our wings once, if the thermals we ride are optimal.

And did I mention that we are beautiful? You stooopid humans think you know so much about beauty. We have awesome red heads, and in different light, our feathers can be chocolate brown or iridescent blue and black. Our beaks look like they were carved from pearls.

These people at RAPTOR, Inc. think they treat me so well.
They feed me every day. They clean my cage. The men hand me pinkie mice (my favorite), some of them sing to me.

But then they do stuff like this:
Poor Earl
When the creek flooded all of the mews, they made me stay in this dog carrier for two days, because they said they wanted to keep me safe because I can't swim. Jeez. These people.

But I stick around. I know they love me and want me to be happy.
earl spread out
You know why they love me? And why you should, too?

Because I am awesome. I am gorgeous. I have personality.

WORSHIP ME. Because I am a Turkey Vulture.


KGMom said...

Helloooo, Earl.
Nice to meet you...
I will keep my respectful distance.

Wren said...

Hello, Earl. You are a fine vulture, indeed.

Susan Ellis said...

You da pearl Earl! who knew all that digestive tract specialization and adaptation stuff! (not me)

Beth in NYC said...

Early, you truly are a beautiful bird. Rock on!

Mary said...

Oh, I feel like I know Earl. I admit I've always thought TVs were homely looking and they really are, you know. But now, I see really do feel a special fondness towards such interesting creatures. Puking aside, they rock.

That last photo says "look at me!"

troutbirder said...

I'm convinced. You da man Earl. And a handsome one at that. :) Still when my wife and I are on the hiking trail and look up to see some of your relatives circling about us, I remind her to keep moving.

Kathiesbirds said...

Susan, this is one funny and informative post. I did not know about sanitizing poop!

Anonymous said...

I bow down before the greatness that is Earl!

MObugs said...

I've long been a fan of TV, it seems I am an advocate for many of the creatures most people find quite unloveable, opossums, bats, vultures...etc. This past spring we discovered a turkey vulture nest (well not a nest...more like two eggs dropped into the bottom of a hollow tree). I poked my head, she puked, I poked my head out! WOOO WEEE what stink! She made her point, back off! I was able to get two pictures of the eggs and of her before leaving her in peace. We went back several times to check on her and found her still incubating eggs. The crops in the field were too tall to walk through by the time I was able to check on her again. I'm sure the babies have flown by now.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

May, they are NOT homely!! REally- did you think I wouldn't read your comment???

Love this post Susan. :)

(blogger/booger ate my comment before...)

NatureWoman said...

I *love* Turkey Vultures and this is one great post, Susan!!

Tricia said...

Love the Turkey Vultures. I must know, are the mice that Earl finds in his toys freshly dead or do they require ripening for him to love them? Same question about the pinkies, foul or fresh?

Susan Gets Native said...

Trixie: To answer your question:
Any version of dead is fine with Earl. Rat and mouse flesh is pretty tender, so she doesn't have any trouble digging in. If we gave her fresh venison, it would be a different story.
Wild vultures do require a period of...softening their food to be able to eat it. Vultures don't have the sharp hook on their beaks that raptors do, so their food has to be....a little bit mushy.
Hope no one was eating as they read that.

Susan Gets Native said...

Whoops. I mean "Tricia". I thought you were my buddy Trixie!

Beth said...

EARL! {{{{hugs}}} on your special day! *slight shudder*. You are one gorgeous supermodel.


Tricia said...

Thanks Susan, you can call me Trixie anytime, I like that name better anyway :) I am in Southwest Ohio and have noticed that there are lots of Black Vultures here now, the BVs are apparently the alpha vulture, I've watched them scarfing down road kill while the TVs just circle longingly, they seem to fear the Black Vultures.

Susan Gets Native said...

Turkey vultures are our normal, native species. Black vultures have been, over the past 10-15 years, staging a northern expansion. They are normally a southern species, but for some reason (climate change, maybe?) they are venturing farther and farther north every year.
BV's are much more aggressive than TV's, and since their sense of smell is weaker than that of the TV's, they will follow TV's to a carcass, then shoulder them out of the way and the TV's, being meeker, have to wait. Your observation is dead on...excuse the pun.

RuthieJ said...

Earl certainly is a handsome bird (even if he doesn't like women very well). I love that last photo!

dguzman said...

That last pic says it all. I do indeed worship you, Earl.

This is probably Lynne's favorite day of the year!

dAwN said...

great post Susan!
I was sans internet when the vulture day came and went..
so nice to go back and read everyones post..
I am enjoying catching up with your posts..
Love having internet again!
Take care..