Sunday, November 21, 2010

A fortuitous sighting

This morning, I stood in the back yard and watched black vultures circle over head. My husband immediately speculated as to where the "corpse" was. Watching vultures may seem odd, but I love them. When I took natural history at Cuesta Community College, I watched the turkey vultures and kept a detailed account of their behaviors. When I moved to Louisiana, the vultures' black heads fascinated me and made them seem all the more ominous.

Vultures have two names for the groups they gather in depending on their behavior. Just a group is a venue; if they circle -- I presume over a carcass -- then they become a kettle. I find that exceedingly interesting, that animal behaviorists or zoologists or whomever came up with these terms thought it necessary to give the groups two separate names. Are there any other animal group that have different terms based on what they are doing? I don't know.

All of this links back to writing because vultures figure into the first few pages of All Along the Pacific. If you look for them, you'll see them there, circling over the brown hills of the Salinas Valley.

By the way, that book should be out any day now. I'll keep you all posted.

And just for fun, if you sear "vultures" at Amazon, here's the first thing that comes up:Star Wars Clone Wars Star Fighter Vehicle - Super Vulture DroidA Star Wars toy.

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