Favorite

Vultures circling 

Black vultures have been in the news lately, thanks to a bit of upset in Eureka Springs over the damage to a man's roof. Since it was Eureka Springs, not only was there a complaint, there was also a counter love-offering: Another resident said she bought her home purposely near a roost because it presented "an opportunity to study" the birds.

But that article was followed up by another that called black vultures "an invasive species" and quoted a man whose expertise is in fishing and boating saying that the species should be "eradicated."

The Observer had so many "huhs?" reading the article it sounded like a locomotive was coming down Markham Street. Vultures as winged kudzu? Deserving of eradication?

Where The Observer is ineloquent, however, wildlife biologist Joe Neal, author of "Arkansas Birds: Their Distribution and Abundance" (UA Press), has a way with words. In the online birder listserv sponsored by the University of Arkansas, he wrote about the characterization of black vultures as invading body-snatchers and gave The Observer the OK to pass it on to the general reading public:

"Lately we've been reading articles in the daily paper about problems with Black Vultures in Arkansas. I don't know if we have reached Threat Level RED, but it's headed there. This is a divine truth for folks who consistently see all wild creatures as a threat to farmers and American Civilization, generally speaking.

"Last year it was the proposed listing of two bivalves that was going to end all farming in Arkansas. Then it was the attempt to control water pollution. Now Black Vultures (BVs), the black scare.

"First, a few actual facts: BVs are more native to Arkansas than people. Check out Arkansas Birds (pp 131-132). They've been here all along.

"My casual assessment is that BVs have probably increased in northern Arkansas. Since BVs have a more southerly range, increasing temperatures could be helping them move northward. This would seem to be supported by the Audubon data, that demonstrates the center of their winter abundance in the past 40 years has shifted northward by 52 miles.

"So what is the cause for this increase in temperature and range shift? Must be the BVs, right, with their Dodge Ram trucks and coal-fired power plants?

"Since BVs feed heavily on deer carcasses, and such carcasses have increased, I suspect this might help explain some of the population change and shift. But from reading the papers I'd have to assume BVs are killing deer and dragging their carcasses out on the highways where it is easier for a bunch of BVs to congregate.

"BVs also eat chickens — I guess they must be walking into the big chicken houses and draggin' 'em out, too.

"Another silly factoid oft repeated and wrong: BVs demonstrate some southward shift on the northern end of their breeding range in hard cold, but they otherwise do not migrate. Scare mongers do not distinguish between winter roosts and true migration. BVs do migrate, though there are almost always at least some present.

"And yes, when they run out of the deer, skunks, possums, armadillos, cats, dogs, hawks, owls and all the other stuff we kill on every roadway in Arkansas — yes, in addition, BVs have been known to attack cattle, including animals said to be alive at the time.

"BVs are always out in the hay fields after hay is cut. Do you suppose they are killing cattle out there? But I never see cows there. Could it be BVs are interested in the deer fawns, rabbits, snakes, foxes, etc., killed by the mowers?

"BVs: the new black face of menace. Too bad they're not red."

By the by, Arkansas has two vulture species. The turkey vulture, common all over the state, soars with its wings in a V. The black vulture is a clumsy thing, all flappy, and has pale white wing tips; turkey vultures are paler on the undersides of their wings. Up close, neither will win the Miss Arkansas pageant.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Show and tell

    The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
    • Feb 25, 2016
  • Yawp

    The Observer has been in a funk lately for a number of reasons: revulsions and slights, both foreign and domestic. We get that way most years as the winter drags on, once the tinsel and colored lights of Christmas drop into the rearview, soon after we come off the New Year's Day hangover.
    • Mar 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Latest in The Observer

  • At the roadblock

    Dusk comes to the State Police roadblock on Arkansas Highway 388, about a half-mile from the Cummins Unit, where two men will be put to death tonight. A cool spring evening here, the broad acre of Delta dirt near the turnoff to the prison as manicured as a golf course, other than the occasional fire ant mound, which the reporters step around like landmines.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Snapshots from an execution

    The Observer stood in front of the Governor's Mansion on Monday night in a periodic drizzle, waiting on the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether a man would die, not knowing there would be no execution that night.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • The chair

    The Observer's pal and former colleague, a dedicated Deputy Observer, ran across the following piece of writing while cleaning out an online folder to make room for still more of the snippets and starts and literary flotsam and jetsam that seem to pile up around a writer like snowdrifts.
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation