Turkey Vultures and Me

Andrea Westmoreland/Creative Commons

Check out my article in the latest issue of This Land:

Winter 2016 – This Land Press:

TWO WAYS OF LOOKING AT A TURKEY VULTURE Gordon Grice contemplates the morbid beauty of circling scavengers.


  1. I read that vultures, precisely because of their strictly necrophagous diet, have a very strong immune system. After all, if this were not the case, they would take who knows how many dangerous infections.
    For the same reasaon, I suppose that being injured by a beak of a vulture exposes the victim to a risk of infection far greater than being wounded by an animal that is not necrophagous.
    What's your opininon, Gordon?

    1. Interesting question! We know that scratches from big cats are septic because they're often caked with decaying flesh. I'm not sure the same logic applies to a vulture's beak, however. As far as I know, the beak doesn't really hold accretions of meat. So I'm guessing it might not be much worse than any other unsterilized sharp instrument. Fortunately, vulture attacks are extremely rare.

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  3. "We know that scratches from big cats are septic because they're often caked with decaying flesh."
    I read, but I don't remembere where, that - among big cats - scrathes from jaguar are the most septic.

    "Fortunately, vulture attacks are extremely rare."
    Thank goodness! Imagine what it could do to a human a voracious flock of vultures.

    1. That's interesting about jaguars--I didn't know that.

  4. If that's true, maybe it depends on the kind of preys of jaguars: peccaries, tapirs, turtles, caimans, armadillos, monkeys, deers, snakes, birds etc. etc. .
    It's estimated that the jaguar's diet accounts at least 87 species!


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