Eat, Prey, Love: Let's Give Vultures Their Due

They're not exactly man's best friend, but we need them
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2009 5:05 PM CST
Vulture advocates say the birds don't circle over dying things. They circle as they ascend on thermals, columns of warm rising air and ride air currents for hours with no flapping.   (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
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(Newser) – Vultures are like lawyers: nobody likes them until they need them, and boy do we need them, writes Constance Casey in a soaring defense of the misunderstood bird in Slate. Their business may be unpleasant, but vultures are essential in disposing of rotting carrion and warding off disease. “They aren’t really birds of prey,” Casey insists. “They’re birds of clean-up.”

Vultures are not only practical (their baldness cuts down on preening after a bloody meal), they’re also graceful (they ride air currents for hours without flapping their wings). Vultures don’t swoop in for the kill, instead preferring meals that are at least 2 days dead, and says one advocate, “Their waste is as clean as any waste can be.” Now how about those pigeons?