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International Vulture Day Sept. 5

Vulture in sky near Pahokee on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

Sometime riding partner and former coworker George Primm sent me a message this morning:

Vulture taken on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic TrailSaturday is “International Vulture Awareness Day.”

Take a lawyer or politician to lunch….

(My apologies to vultures. As nature’s recyclers, least THEY serve a useful function.)

Vultures seen near Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

That got me to thinking about how many vultures I’ve seen on or around the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST).

The single ones playing around in the thermals never worried me much. They provide an interesting diversion while I’m cranking along.

I AM a little more concerned I pass ones like this. I don’t like the way they’re eying me.

Mommy, make them stop looking at me

Vultures in tree along SR 76 in FloridaMatt and I weren’t too worried about these guys we encountered on our cross-Florida ride. They were full from polishing off a dead deer on the side of the road.

International Vulture Awareness Day

International Vluture Awarness DayThis isn’t a joke. There’s actually a web site promoting it. It started out in England and South Africa and has now gone international.

Check out some of the world-wide events planned for the day.

Vultures aren’t cute and cuddly like some of the other birds I see from bikeback, but just think where we’d be without nature’s garbage collectors.

Somebody has to clean up all those slow-moving armadillos, possums and other roadkill.

Vultures along Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

Support your neighborhood vulture

So, the next time you see a vulture on the side of the road, give him a nod of thanks. And keep moving. They eat dead stuff.

Tim O’Meilia won’t miss International Vulture Awareness Day

Tim O’Meilia was a general assignment reporter at The Palm Beach Post. Every year, the vultures would arrive in Palm Beach County for The Season.

We locals were used to it, so we weren’t concerned when the skies over us were covered with circling carrion crunchers. Snowbirds and tourists weren’t quite so sanguine. They would be concerned that Bernie Madoff or someone like him had come to pick their bones clean literally as well as financially.

Eventually, some editor would pull his eye off the gazillion TV sets hanging from the ceiling and actually look out the window at the Real World. That’s when you’d hear, “TIM!!!” on the editor bellowcom.

Vulture photographed on Lake Okeechobee Scenic TrailThe corpse is already picked pretty clean

See, Tim was the poor guy who had to write The Vulture Story each and every year that I can remember. To his credit, he managed to find a fresh peg every story. We old-timers would have understood if he had put his old stuff on a five-year cycle, but, no, it was always something new.

At one time we started a pool to pick how many years it would be before Tim would grab a shotgun and start blasting away at either editors or vultures. (My money and preference were on editors. See lawyer joke above.)

Fortunately for both the editors and the vultures, Tim was one of The Post 300 who left the newspaper a year ago.

I wonder who’ll get drafted for The Vulture Story this year. With the state of newspapers these days, the circling vultures may actually know something. Unfortunately for them, they’ll find the corpse has been pretty much picked clean already.

3 comments to International Vulture Day Sept. 5

  • The vultures are massing over the carcasses of thousands of dying small business and small- cap public companies these days too. Hedge and VC funds have shifted their business model to bone-picking from equity investing. Maybe we should have an International Vulture Capitalist Day.
    (O.K., it’s an off the wall comment, I know.)

  • Tim O'Meilia

    Ken,
    Thanks for the mention. I’m glad to know that vultures make you think of me. A natural connection.
    International Vulture Appreciation Day on Sept. 5 notwithstanding, the turkey vultures usually wait until mid-October to visit South Florida. They are early season, uh, snowbirds.
    Here’s the lede of one of my earlier efforts, c. 1990:
    “The buzzards are circling near Donald Trump’s Palm Beach estate, but none of them is a tabloid reporter or a loan collector.
    These are genuine turkey vultures, come to roost annually in the Australian pines in the island bird sanctuary across Southern Boulevard from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and keep an eye on holiday trick-or-treaters.
    They also roost in trees just north of the central part of town. ‘If it’s Halloween, it must be turkey vultures,’ said wildlife biologist Mark Robson of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.”
    Anytime you can get Trump and turkey vultures in the same lede, it’s golden.
    And here’s the kicker:
    “Biologists consider them part of Mother Nature’s recycling program.
    They’re also protected by federal migratory law. Killing a turkey vulture can cost a $500 fine and 60 days rotting in jail, so to speak.”

    Ah, I miss the good ol’ days of puking vultures, lovelorn gators (Q: Why did the gator cross the road? A: He was looking for love in all the wet places) and mating-to-the-death lovebugs.
    I enjoy your blog. Stay with it.

  • Thanks, Tim.

    I’ve always admired a journeyman journalist who could take the same story and come up with something new year after year.

    When I was paper-hopping, I can always remember how the first assignment at the new job was exciting.

    Then you’d hit your first anniversary and that damned assignment was back again.

    By the time I saw it coming around for the third time, I knew it was time to start sending out resumes.

    How you kept it fresh every year amazed me.