Friday, April 18, 2008

I wonder...

Today E and I went to the park that is very near our house. Our neighborhood is very close to a river and next to the park is a small wooded area and I guess you could call it a valley, but there is a steep incline going down to the river. This wooded area is the nesting area for vultures and some hawks. We have a hawk who lives in our back yard at certain times of the year. She is beautiful to watch and very regal.

So today as E played on the slides, I was sitting in the swing and watching the vultures and hawks fly around. The sky was a crystal blue, so clear and there were no clouds. The birds looked as if they were floating in the sky, their black wings shiny in the sunlight. Now I can tell which are vultures and which are hawks based on size. The vultures are larger birds and rather bald.

I think when we think of hawks, we think of them being strong and powerful birds of prey. They are regal, in fact I think kings have kept hawks for display and sport for centuries. Many sports teams have a hawk as a mascot. As does my alma mater.

Now vultures on the other hand, they get a bad wrap. They feed on dead animals and sometimes prey on dying animals. In common speech we say things like - the vultures are circling or so and so is a vulture.

But to watch them fly today - the vultures were just as graceful, just as powerful and just as beautiful as the hawks. They flew in perfect circles on the wind currents. It was lovely to watch. So peaceful and yet so powerful.

I imagine we associate vultures with death and that is what makes them seem less majestic and powerful, but is it really more majestic to stalk and slaughter a little mouse or other small mammal as a hawk does or is it better to eat that which is going to go to waste anyway and spread bacteria in the process? Vultures serve the communities in which they live by eating what is left to waste. I read online that in India and Pakistan, when animals die the farmers and herders leave them in the fields for the vultures and because of over use of a particular drug in the live stock, which is deadly to vultures, much of the vulture population has died and the rate of illness among the farmers, due to decaying dead flesh is on the rise. Diseases such as botulism are kept in check by vultures and without them it is spreading through the towns and villages.

Both birds serve a purpose, the hawks keep us from being over run by rabbits and field mice and the vultures keep our wooded areas and fields free from dead animals, which spread disease. In flight they are both majestic and graceful, full of power and beauty.

So I wonder, why do we value one above the other...


Cyn said...

Makes me wonder too, but something else. Regarding the vultures in India... why can't people understand that we do not have the right to irradicate (or introduce) a native breed of animal. I was just thinking about the European House Sparrow, the bird is not at all a sparrow but it is what most people recognize as a "sparrow." They are dreadful. They are very aggressive and can actually kill fledglings of other birds. They are the one reason the Northern Bluebird (one of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen)is threatened. Anyway, every one of the millions of house sparrows in the US today is a descendant of 100 sparrows introduced in New York City in the 1860's to eliminate some insect. maybe not on topic, but see, you got me thinking. (-:

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Susan said...


Yes I agree with you. It is amazing what happens when we tinker with nature!

Susan said...


Thank you for stopping by! I am glad you like my blog! I look forward to seeing you around the blogsphere!