Bet you’ll never guess where I shot this Black Vulture? Ummmmmmm. Give up? I shot it at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida.
Through the bird area refuge, that surrounds the space center, you can see astronauts are not the only created beings that love to be launched above the earth. Vultures are one of the loftiest aeronautical bird flyers.
NASA Vehicle Assembly Building (Largest single-story structure in the world) by Val Lee
To tell it like it happened, I was observing the many displays, including the historic astrovan that was long employed for transporting astronauts to the launching pad.
This astrovan represents commemorative memories and heartbreaking ones. Many explorative accomplishments arose from the launched lives. The lost lives from failure flights can still jolt our hearts.
Behind the astrovan, I noticed something odd out the massive rear windows of the visitor room. Large, strange birds that resembled turkeys were lurking outside. Upon closer inspection, I determined they must be Vultures. It was quite the large flock with some, roosting in a tree. I stepped outside, not realizing it was an emergency exit only. Oh my, oh well. No harm done—no arrest. I had my eyes on these birds, not the small sign.
I had never been in such a situation so it was quite a blessing to observe this unique, strange acting creation of God, the American Black Vultures.
These Vultures, like the Cormorant, stand often with wings outstretched, the “spread-winged stance” or “horaltic pose.” They can cool off, dry off, and bake off bacteria—not a pleasant thought; no, indeed not.
My video of these Vultures:
I am not sure what attracted them to this spacey local. I am sure they did not hear about it on the news, though there were various reports regarding the preparation of the last Atlantis Shuttle launch that was scheduled for July 8, 2011.
We were there in June and it was quite intriguing to view Atlantis from afar.
There have been 135 missions performed by five shuttles.
“Shuttle flights deployed more than fifty satellites for military, governmental, and commercial clients. Three interplanetary craft were launched from shuttles: the Magellan spacecraft that traveled to Venus, the Galileo spacecraft that traveled to Jupiter, and the Ulysses spacecraft that traveled to the sun. Shuttles also deployed important observatories into space, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Gamma Ray Observatory, the Diffuse X-Ray Spectrometer, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.”
Two Christian astronauts, Commander Richard Husband and Michael P. Anderson, perished during the Columbia Shuttle reentry disaster on February 1, 2003.
God’s universe is beyond comprehension and probes to endless galaxies or so it appears. Men can only explore a minuscule segment of its vastness. Privileged Planet Video with the Hubble Heritage Team:
The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) or American Black Vulture is an ave of the New World Vulture family whose range extends from the southeastern United States to South America, and the Caribbean Islands—a landing local for those buzzards who relish the perfect vacation spots. It inhabits relatively open areas, which provide forests and vegetation. They love perching in dead trees, imagine that.
“Vulture” is derived from the latin word vulturus, which means tearer. This is an ugly picture of its necessary, vulgar habits. Its latin name Atratus, means “clothed in black,” The genus name, Coragyps means “raven-vulture.” The family name, Cathartidae, means “purifier.” It is also identified by the names, Carrion Crow and Black Buzzard.“
Its wingspan is quite large—five feet. As you can from the photos, this bird is as large as a turkey. It is classified as a smaller species of Vulture.
Males and females reveal no distinguishing differences in appearance. Their plumage is black. They display a featherless gray head and neck. This allows these buzzards to probe into carcass’ without getting too yucky.
Their face displays a short, hooked beak and we all know what that is for.
It exhibits grayish white legs. Their flat, weak, blunt talons are long and consist of two front webbed toes. They are not constructed for grasping.
Primary feathers display a white underside at the baseline, visible in flight. The tail is short and square, nothing attractive.
I did notice one positive thing, their brown eyes appeared kind of sweet looking. I was quite struck when peering at one of my photos.
Black Vultures are non-threatening to any human population. They never attack live mortal beings. Contrary to belief, they do not leave bacteria, not even in their feces. God manufactured their systems to be totally self-cleaning. They do leave uric acid (urine) that can kill trees and vegetation; however, decaying dead carrion is more harmful to the environment than Vulture acid that can be washed away by a rainstorm or a good hosing.
Like all New World Vultures, the Black Vulture often defecates on its legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces and/or urine to cool itself, a process known as urohidrosis. It also kills bacteria as the feces and urine contain a cleaning acid. No, this is not the most pleasant bird on God’s green earth.
The generally displeasing appearance of the Black Vulture matches its prescribed work on this sphere. Besides being a flesh scavenger, this Vulture of black deeds, will seize nest eggs, kill newborn animals and small animals. I viewed a video where they slew and consumed a gray kitten. Not a pleasant scene.
One Black Vulture will devour in one swallow, a newly hatched Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, as it attempts to rush to ocean’s safety. Ridleys are dispersed around the world and eggs are laid in the sand, a distance from the ocean so they are not washed away.
Animal carcass’ are easily spotted by the specialized eyes of this Vulture from a good distance of up to four miles. Though the Black Vulture is smaller than the Turkey Vulture, it is more aggressive and will let the Turkeys know they are not invited to dinner. They win the food fights.
Though the American Black Vulture is not a pretty bird that we like to maintain in our minds’ eye, such as the cute Yellow Warbler, its vacuum cleaning job for the earth is essential. God is astonishing in correlating prey animals for remain disposal. Of course, His bug life can take care of any tiny, unsightly leftovers.
In Revelation chapter 19 of the Bible, we read that Jesus Christ before His millennial reign, will enlist His army of Vultures (there are at least 25 species) to eat the remains of His enemies. He may call other prey birds as well to assist in the feast of human flesh. He will destroy His enemies before He takes His throne in Jerusalem, whereby He will rule the earth as a lowly King, though He is the Creator and ruler of the universe. Perfect peace, harmony and righteousness will rule the world under His power.
The American Black Vulture soars into the heavens in flight artistry. It is one of the most skilled pilots in the world. They fly slightly lower than the Turkey Vulture. Black Vultures are called the “flying wing,” since they mainly fly without exerted effort.
When someone peers into the air and sights Vultures hovering, they might think, “What’s this all about, a bunch of buzzards overhead?” It can be thought of as a nightmare moment since it usually signals a death of something or someone. Black Vultures dress in black for all funerals, but they are not the mourning type. They are into holding wakes, installing the dead.
Black buzzards migrate over North and South America with minimal energy output. Vultures often take to flight a few hours after sunrise, after the morning air has been warmed by the glowing sun. Vultures frequently circle and gain altitude on pockets of rising, warm thermals of air. Topping the thermal, they can glide across the sky at speeds of 60 miles per hour. Upon natural descent, they will locate another thermal for another sequences of circling dance; rising, and then gliding again, implementing the wonders of heavenly air.
Vultures can cover many air miles, advantaging each thermal, never needing to beat a wing. The LORD’S amazing ways of birding design are past finding out. He equips His aves with the right equipment for their designed service on this earth. He even includes break times.
In human populated areas, this ave is not above robbing garbage dumps. It is equipped with a remarkable nose for tracing anything that smells foul, though its snout is weaker than the Turkey Vulture.
Do not expect to hear anything resembling the song of the Nightingale coming from this buzzards’ vocal cords, being it was manufactured without a music box; oops, voice box. It can, however, produce offensive grunting and hissing noises, which God corresponded to its occupation. It seems to be in perfect sync.
It is known to regurgitate food when approached or disturbed. This act displays strategy survival maneuvers. This lightens the air freight load of the bird for fast take offs. And the returned to earth food, at times, can be viewed as a present offered to a prey animal; whereby it might forget the Vulture and eat the fast food. Fortunately for this bird, it has no natural enemies.
Black Vultures are of the friendly sort, owning they are gregarious, roosting in large groups with friends and family. Young stay with the parents in a social group or “kettle” for years or for life.
They fly low to the ground to pick up the scent of ethyl mercaptan—a decay gas emitted from dead animals.
The American Black Vulture occasionally sets its binocular eyes on livestock and deer. This is not a pleasant thought for ranchers. It is the only species of New World Vulture which preys on cattle. Occasionally, it harasses birthing cows; however it primarily preys on newborn calves. Unsuspectingly, young caves will allow the dark Vultures to approach them. In ghastly, black heart fashion, a venue of Black Vultures will swarm a calf. The dressed in black gang will then move in to peck at the calf’s eyes, nose or tongue. The calf eventually goes into shock, and the rest is unspeakable.
Black Vultures have been known to pick ticks from resting, cute Capybaras; a uniquely created, manifold animal:
I guess this might be considered a good deed, if you don’t get too technical. They will also try and kill young Capybaras.
The USA Peregrine Fund, located just south of Boise, Idaho, in 2006 discovered why vulture numbers were declining in the nation of India that depends upon vultures for clearing the dead. Vultures were dying from kidney failure that arose from an anti-inflammatory drug administered to cattle. Upon this discovery, the drug was outlawed in order to reestablish vulture numbers. In this pagan land where animals are worshipped as sacred, many people die of starvation. Hindus cannot eat meat.
(My father was stationed in India during WWII working as a lineman with the rank of sergeant. He told of the large carts that were wheeled through cities every morning to pick up the accumulated dead who had starved because heathens maintain a meatless diet. Today one-fifth of India’s population is chronically hungry—200 million people. This land is not abundantly blessed of God because these people refuse to worship their Creator. Instead, they worship cows and other animals that the LORD created to sustain them.)
They soar higher than eagles. They are perfect gliders and rarely have to flap their wings. They display a tremendous wingspan and lofty, aerial abilities. In 1973, a vulture collided with a commercial aircraft off the Ivory Coast. At the time, the plane was flying at 37,000 feet. The plane was able to land safely with one engine.
August 2010: “Warnings were issued to air traffic over Scotland and England yesterday after a vulture, which is capable of soaring at heights of more than 30,000 feet, escaped during an air show. Britain’s air traffic control group issued the warning. ‘We made pilots aware of the possibility of seeing this bird as it has a three-meter wingspan and can fly at altitudes used by commercial aircraft,’ a British air traffic control spokesman says to the Telegraph of London.”
There are a couple attractive vulture species in the world. The Griffin Vulture (Old World) that is not bald; it displays beautiful fluffy white head feathers.
Vultures can be synchronized in their eating habits. Many African species of vultures dine on the same carcass, arriving and feeding at various times, employing regimented dismemberment tactics. The powerful White-headed Vultures usually arrive first on the scene, cautiously approaching the carcass before tearing apart the tough hide. White-backed Vultures arrive soon after, assisting in exposing the carcass’ entrails. Ruppell’s Griffon Vultures may be next in the chow line, thrusting their long necks into the open carcass to obtain pieces of soft flesh. Lappet-faced Vultures typically feast last, eating the remaining skin, tendons, and ligaments. Bearded Vultures feed on bone marrow by breaking open large carcass bones by flying them high into the air, hundreds of feet, and dropping them onto rocks.
God is astonishing in correlating prey animals for remain disposal. Of course, bug life can take care of any tiny, unsightly leftovers.
Mating for life is the American Black Vultures’ most renowned attribute.
Pairs are formed following a courtship display. Several males will encircle a female, while strutting and bobbing their heads, as if grooving to a love song. They, at times, will perform courtship flights, diving and chasing each other over their chosen nest site. It is always pleasant to fly somewhere for a honeymoon. These show-off guys can afford it.
Once a bond is formed, it is time to raise a family. Bird moms believe in home birth so they lay their one to two eggs in caves, hollow trees, other lofty places or even on the ground. No, not much in the way of a crib. However, some do love exterior decorating and will adorn the nursery area with glass chips, brightly colored plastic, shiny metal objects, such as bottle caps, etc. They lay eggs of various hues—gray-green, blue, or white. The shells are blotched or spotted with lavender or pale brown around the larger end. Both parents incubate the young for 29 days.
Upon hatching, the young are covered with white down, but are still not very cute. Both parents caringly nurture their young.
Vultures feed their young regurgitated carrion (dead meat), a vile smelling substance. It takes the young about 75-80 days to manage the skies as gifted pilots. The entire family remains together throughout the summer.
American Black Vultures lifespan averages 25.5 years.
*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.
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My Revelation commentaries for chapters 1-10 explained, please click here: revelation-chapters-1-10-explained
My Revelation commentaries for chapter 11 and following explained, please click here: revelation-chapter-11-mouths-of-fire