Black Vultures Coragyps atratus in Maryland December 2010.
If you live in Southern Maryland, you should definitely check out the wake behind the St. Mary’s County Public Library in Lexington Park. A wake is the name of a group of vultures. They are also collectively called a committee. You will find an impressive number of Black Vultures there. Don’t be spooked by their large size, black bodies or their eating habits: they feed mostly on the carcasses of dead animals. They won’t be that interested in you. Therefore, getting relatively close shouldn’t be a problem if you approach slowly. Bring a camera.
I love the way they walk: what funny characters they are. You have to admit that they are interesting at the very least.
More about vultures:
According to Wikipedia: Vulture stomach acid is exceptionally corrosive, allowing them to safely digest putrid carcasses infected with Botulinum toxin, hog cholera, and anthrax bacteria that would be lethal to other scavengers. This also enables them to use their reeking, corrosive vomit as a defensive projectile when threatened. Vultures urinate straight down their legs; the uric acid kills bacteria accumulated from walking through carcasses, and also acts as evaporative cooling.
O.K. that was gross and cool at the same time. Vultures are amazing. They are needed too. Scavengers like vultures along with decomposers keep the earth clean of stinking dead things and break them down into components used to make new living things.