FEBRUARY 5, 2021: “Carrion My Wayward Son!” …

~ Courtesy of The American Eagle Foundation ~

If you’re ever bored, please check out my friend, George, the 35 year old turkey vulture who lives in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, at the American Eagle Foundation. Believe it or not, as obsessed as I am with corvids and raptors, even more so am I with vultures!

“But, why Cat? WHY?”

They are, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood and sorely undervalued creatures of all, a plight I know far too well. As far as I’m concerned, they’re a gift sent from God as a lesson in selflessness and servitude without recognition!

Vultures? Eww, gross! Nasty, dirty, AWFUL, disgusting birds!

What I love about George is how his social media fame is steadily changing the face of his kind via his super silly antics and personality! To know him is to love him, but the longer you do, the farther removed from “disgusting bird” you’ll become, as nothing could be farther from the truth!

Vultures are much maligned. As natural garbage collectors, vultures are vital to our ecosystem, so why do we feel this way? Is it because we perceive them as ugly? [They’re] one of very few creatures capable of effortless soaring for hours at a time. Many believe that soaring vultures are a sure signal that a dead animal can be found nearby, but this is not always true. Vultures are intelligent creatures who love to play. When a vulture discovers a thermal, it’s able to hold its wings motionless and allow the warm air to carry it in sweeping circles toward the sky. You may see a group of them soaring gracefully, just enjoying life.
{“The Misunderstood Vulture“}

By no means am I professing to be an avian expert; I merely speak to you from my heart and personal perspective. Having taken the time to become educated as George’s fan, I am “committed” to these thoughts about vultures (and yes, that pun was intended) …

THEY CLEAN UP OUR MESSES (so that we don’t have to wallow in them)! They are THE official clean-up crew of death and decay. Without them, we’d be living amid mountains of carcasses, flies, maggots, and only God knows what else that the vultures otherwise consume … aaand the accompanying odors. Now, that would be, “Eww, GROSS!” Which isn’t to say they only feed on roadkill, by the way, but decay and decomposition are the leading characters in the playbill of their life.

No, thank you, Chef Boyardee! We’ll just take that poor little mess on the west side of I-75 that didn’t quite make it to the other side.

THEY’RE THE GOOD KIND OF MARTYRS! In keeping with above, they are fast becoming an integral part of bacterial disease research. They feast on corpses, then we learn from theirs. Can someone say circle of life? “The birds with the iron stomachs” consume the rotting flesh that can be toxic to others. What they consume prevents the spread of diseases that would otherwise be consuming US! Meanwhile, no one ever really says, “Hey, thanks buzzard!”

THEY DON’T ACT LIKE ANIMALS! Vultures are known to be gentle creatures, devoid of unwarranted aggression, avidly social, and cooperative amongst their peers. They prefer to work together, not against each other, and are exceptional parents who share the responsibility of raising their brood.

THEY’RE NOBODY’S VICTIM! Although a vulture’s legs and feet are relatively weak, and their lack of a voice box leaves them speechless, their “disabilities” don’t stop them from accomplishing their life’s work and living out their full potential! Their wings and bills are mighty and they can literally float like feathers, but as far as stinging like bees? Umm, not so much. They can shred a dead-animal steak like tissue paper. Oh, and about that missing voice box? No, they can’t delight us with birdsong like their fellow feathered compadres, they do still manage to thrive with only primitive grunts, screeches, and hisses.


MY DEAREST GEORGE: Thank you, my handsome friend, for helping me rise above all the vulture noise and confusion that once blinded my eyes to one of nature’s great illusions. It is my truest hope that anyone who meets you will find you as wondrous as I do, so that the next time they see your brethren on the road just doing what they do, instead of saying, “Eww, gross!”, they’ll say:

Thank you, God, for those magnificent creatures!”, and MAYBE even, “Carrion, scavenger, wayward as you soar beneath The Sun. Lay that bald little head of yours to rest, my friend! I couldn’t live without you.”

~ Courtesy of The American Eagle Foundation ~

If you are “remotely” interested in supporting “Team George” and the American Eagle Foundation: