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

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • That modern mercantile: The bARn

    The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

Latest in The Observer

  • Summer resolutions

    The Observer likes making resolutions at New Year's. We don't manage to keep any of them other than the one we always start with — "Stay Above Ground" — but we do like making them.
    • May 25, 2017
  • More bad news

    As we write this, the Little Rock City Board is readying an ordinance to make it exponentially harder for charities to feed poor and homeless people in city parks.
    • May 18, 2017
  • Art imitates life

    If you're not watching "The Handmaid's Tale" on Hulu, you should be, if your heart can stand it.
    • May 11, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »

May

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 31  

Most Viewed

  • Court feud

    Jerry Jones and ethics, low employment and more.
  • Abuse again at Arkansas juvenile lockup

    A guard was fired after choking a child at the Alexander Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center. It’s the latest in a long history of mistreatment at the facility.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • High school MVP

    An Academic All-Star who approaches perfection.

Most Recent Comments

 

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