Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Are you 'vulture aware'?

On a hike in Portland’s Forest Park earlier this week, I ambled into the Audubon Wildlife Care Center on Cornell Road to discover volunteers preparing for “International Vulture Awareness Day.”

I have to confess I come up short when it comes to “vulture awareness.” A full day of it never crossed my mind.

I also snarkily thought the publication of Dick Cheney’s book might have some kind of tie-in with this Saturday's festivities.

There’s no question that vultures get a bad rap. Generally you don’t want to be referred to as a “vulture.”

But look at the up-side.

One web site expressed the benefits of vultures this way:

Vultures are scavenging birds that help recycle and prevent the spread of disease. Woodland Park Zoo is home to the turkey vulture, a species that ranges from southern Canada to South America. Turkey vulture numbers declined in the 1950s and 1960s, most likely due to the mistaken belief that they spread diseases. Shooting and poisoned baits often targeted these useful birds.

I mean, wouldn’t you like it said of you that you “help recycle and prevent the spread of disease”? From Southern Canada to South America, no less.

Can Cheney say as much?

Of course, like all do-gooders, there is the danger that you, fellow vulture, will be misunderstood. “Don’t shoot! I PREVENT disease; I don’t spread it! I may be ugly but, remember, I’m ‘useful’!”

So consider heightening your vulture awareness this Saturday at the Portland Audubon shelter, 5151 NW Cornell Road, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

You and the little vulture-unaware ones in your family can:

“Meet Ruby, Portland Audubon’s Turkey Vulture close up.” (I have and she’s one ugly vulture, but she has soulful eyes. At her feet are dead mice — also known as “vermin.")

“Compare your ‘wingspan’ to that of an Andean Condor.” (Hint, you are waaay “wing-span” deficient.)

“Discover why vultures are important” (This, as it turns out, is as important for vultures as for you.)

“Make a pledge to help vultures survive.” (Raise you right wing and repeat after me....)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I used to visit my sister out in Wahkiakum County, and one time I drove around a curve on a quiet road and came upon two turkey vultures feeding on roadkill. I stopped just in time, and had an up-close view of them taking off. They were surprisingly huge and surprisingly graceful.

People pooh-pooh them because they clutter up the sky when we're hoping to see eagles. -- B.

6:01 PM  

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