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Posted at 7:04 PM ET, 01/17/2011

Seeing the good in a vulture

By Deborah Richie Oberbillig, Takoma Park

Regarding the Jan. 16 Metro article “Birds of a feather, disgusting together: Vultures are wintering locally”:

Just how “disgusting” are vultures?  I’d advise a fresh look at a bird with a stinky reputation. Their role as nature’s janitors is vital. They have the best sense of smell of all birds — so keen that engineers use circling vultures to pinpoint leaks in natural gas pipelines. (The birds are attracted to the rotten-meat smell of mercaptan, a substance added to odorless gas for safety.)  Turkey vultures own another record — for slowest wing beat. Their long list of attributes continues, from the antibacterial urine that cleans their legs to the defense of vomiting food on an attacker. Disgusting or ingenious?

It’s dismaying to see the response to vultures roosting in winter in Staunton. The USDA’s strategy of killing two dozen at a time is not working. Why not provide the birds an alternative roost — knowing the kind of surface that attracts them? It’s about time we learned to live with our native wildlife, starting with wintering vultures in Virginia.

By Deborah Richie Oberbillig, Takoma Park  | January 17, 2011; 7:04 PM ET
Categories:  Virginia, wildlife  
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The Agriculture Department should move the vultures to Takoma Park.

Posted by: noyb21 | January 18, 2011 7:56 AM | Report abuse

We have a roost on our 2nd home near the beach, on a lake in NC. It has been a nightmare. They have destroyed our roof, deck and our yard. There's over 50 living on or around my home. It's not our permanent home, so we have hired a deputy to go out daily and blow a horn at them. We'll have to replace our roof on our relativly new home. We found one dead and hung it up, hoping this will deter them. Also applied for a permit to shoot a few and hang them up. Our town is infiltrated with them....Go Away Big Ugly Pooping Birds!

Posted by: jbeckley1 | January 18, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

If it bothers us, kill it.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 18, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Ms. Oberbillig. My heart fell when I heard these birds were being shot. Why is it that we humans can't see past our concocted revulsions? Pesticides are a bigger danger than vultures. Residue on the food you eat. Your computer screen. Why can't we live and let live?

I for one think vultures are beautiful and majestic. Their feathers are gorgeous. If it weren't illegal and against health code, I would want to have my body laid out for them when I die so they can help me return to the circle of life.

This attitude we have of killing any nature that intrudes on our aseptic suburban existence is going to KILL US IN THE END. Bad karma people.

My heart goes out to the birds, not to the selfish people.

Posted by: lilifreak | January 18, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

i can see where you be coming from. But personally i live on a ranch out in texas and those damn birds keep on attacking my cattle. They killed my finest one last week. I try and be nice, but they keep on coming back. Im thinking about moving to canada or something cause up in that area they aint got no birds and stuff.

Posted by: bobsilver | January 18, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

As I see it your article has no value, intresting enough that birds can not only urinate but also throw up on me, but this does not solve the problem of them landing on my roof. At first i just tried to shoo them away but they'd just come right back, there now the primary target of my sons bebe gun and im strting to think about using traps.

Posted by: fildorodo | January 18, 2011 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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