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Exploring Nature

Photo from Metro Creative

Exploring Nature

Exploring Nature: Black Vultures, Part 2

Sunday, August 14, 2022

My backyard birdbath is a popular place these hot summer days and one species that delights in cooling off there is a large black vulture.

With a wingspan of almost five feet, this bird has feathers of velvet black and spends a lot of time preening and making sure the plumes are dust and parasite free.

My particular visitor is often joined by a second vulture that I assume is his mate, since they will stand on the top rail of my back deck and look all lovey-dovey together.

In one case, an injured black vulture was delivered to a bird rehabilitator with a severe shoulder injury. It was determined the bird could not survive in the wild so the rehabber obtained a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and carried the vulture home.

The vulture quickly learned to take food from a person’s hand and also from a cup. It learned to jump on a perch when the perch was tapped with a finger. A most gentle bird, the vulture was given the name Maverick and was described as “reliable, funny and curious.” It was non-threatening to children and according to the keeper, was “the only non-releasable bird in our care that has never bitten me, even accidently.”

A scavenger of the first order, the black vulture performs a valuable public service by eating dead animals, removing carcasses from the landscape. A common sight in Texas is a group of black vultures feasting on a road-killed whitetailed deer. Eating carrion helps stop the spread of disease by neutralizing anthrax, botulism, cholera, rabies and polio pathogens. The vulture’s strong stomach acid and gut flora allow them to sanitize our environment.

So take time to study the black vulture up close and personal. Chances are, you’ll like what you see.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666