Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cathartes Aura

Up way too early today - 3am! Now that I've whiled away my morning in the Etsy forums, it's time for the equally productive blog post so as not to disappoint my one faithful reader. Good morning, Maman! Hm, I guess that wasn't a waste of time after all. :)

Because I love turkey vultures and everyone else should too, I refer you to The Turkey Vulture Society, whose task it is to "promote scientific study of the life habits and needs of the Turkey Vulture, to protect the vulture and its habitat, and to inform the public of the valuable and essential services this bird provides to us and to the environment.". They even have a little FAQ about how to attract turkey vultures. There isn't a lot known about these birds, but it's nice to know someone is working on it. I'd love to be one of those people, but have yet to find out exactly how.

There is what looks to be a really cool annual event in California, but I've had it with that state for a while [personal reasons - no offense intended toward anyone in that part of the world]. It's the Kern River Valley Turkey Vulture Festival, and maybe someday I will get there to see what it's all about. In the meantime, I'm always on the lookout for them flying over, making mental notes of when they're on the scavenge for food throughout the day. They're so beautiful when they soar...

Photo from Wiki

Contrary to what some people believe, vultures won't eat your small pets, don't circle dying animals or people, and are actually beneficial to humans. They clean up carcasses before they reach an advanced state of decay, thus helping to prevent the development of harmful bacteria. The first part of their latin name, Cathartes Aura, actually derives from the Greek "katharsis", which means to cleanse or purify. Not all societies see the vulture in the same negative light as modern American culture. I remember reading about one Native American myth [I'll look more into the origin] which speaks of a time when the sun was too close to the earth. After other animals tried, the vulture successfully pushed the sun away with his head, thus saving the earth from being burned up and leaving himself forever bald.

Of course, an animal doesn't need to be in any way "beneficial" to people - they're all beautiful and valuable. But this does come from a person who takes spiders outside instead of killing them, moves worms off the sidewalk so no one steps on them, and dearly loves even the most maligned of creatures.

* Update - After looking a little bit into vulture mythology, I discovered there is just too much for me to reasonably share here right now. Started collecting links, but again, so many resources. It's a subject I'm very interested in, but if I ever want to get more jewelry made for my shop, I must stop myself!


Countrybythebumpkins said...

Great post!
The Turkey vulture is a very important animal.
I am lucky enough to be able to see them every day in my back yard!
I have never had one eat my stray kitty friends either!

KSK said...

Thank you! They really are, and it's so nice to know there are others out there with an appreciation for them. You are very lucky - I sometimes have to hunt to catch a glimpse of one, although we've had more around here in recent years. Ha! Evidence they really do stick to the scavenging as opposed to the hunting - there are some funny ideas floating around out there. :)

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