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Black Vulture

Large black birds in Panama and other places


When you're walking along in the tropical heat, it may seem a bit worrying to see giant black vultures circling overhead. They have a reputation, thanks to various old movies, of somehow knowing when someone is going to die and become dinner for them. However, this psychic ability of vultures may be in doubt. I am still around as I'm writing this, which means that the bird circling overhead (see photo) did not have my dead body for dinner that day!

Vultures are scavengers and don't kill their prey unless it's very small. Vultures wait for a creature to die, and then they arrive and scavenge the fallen stock. But, do they know when someone is going to die?

Looking closer into the behaviour of black vultures in Panama, they appear to be optimistic opportunists on the lookout for anything potentially edible, and so they will circle around over anything that looks of interest. It doesn't cost them much energy to soar around, and they've got to fly somewhere, so they might as well do some "window shopping" while they are flying around.

Vultures are quite big, with wingspan of 5 or 6 ft, but when you see them close-up, they look remarkably bulky, like a set of christmas turkeys walking around, except these are not in deep freezers are in supermarkets, and are live, and able to fly, land, take off again, and live as wild creatures in environments where there are people.Vultures

Here's a photo to give an estimate of scale, if you happen to know how big 40 gallon oil-drums are. If you don't, maybe you could have a poke around Toxic Drums and see if there's a guide to scale there.

See in this shot, the vultures are eyeing-up the dustbins to see if there's anything worth finding. They are not fussy eaters, and, as mentioned earlier, they are opportunists.

I've seen quite reputable websites which claim that the weight of a black vulture is around 6lb. I can't help but cast doubt upon that. Looking at the impressive size of the birds close up, I think they are at least as big as turkeys in freezers that are 15-20lb. Maybe I'm somehow mistaken, but it seems that the vultures are bigger than they have been given credit for.

I wonder what vultures taste like. There looks to be plenty of meat on them, and they are free range. However, I suspect they might not taste so good, and also they'd have to be well cooked to avoid disease.

Another thing about vultures, they are not afraid of people. It's possible to walk around near to a vulture and it does not fly away unless you get too close. This is how I got the picture of a vulture close-up.

Black Vulture close-up