Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Few Good Shots: King Vulture


Who’d have thought a vulture could be pretty? I mean, their feathers have a ragged, oily look to them, their hunched posture is reminiscent of the more unappealing kind of gargoyle, and their heads are bald and raw-looking. And yet—! This vulture is a marvel of smooth feathers in ivory, black, and grey and has magnificent skin colors, bright and dramatic as a sunset over the Amazon.


These birds are called king vultures, so the placards tell me, because their beaks are heavier and stronger than those of most other carrion feeders: these birds are able to rip open tough flesh, making it accessible to other animals as well. I’m not really clear what that has to do with king-ship, since direct action leading to the well-being of one’s citizens is not one of the defining characteristics of monarchy; a king vulture, I’d think, would be one that would suggest, through a mouthful of food, that the lesser animals eat cake.

But leaving etymology aside, these are beautiful birds, and I was thrilled to find the one at the zoo in a position where the fencing of her/his cage was less visible to the camera. (I feel a bit guilty about the way these animals’ cages disappear only in photographs, but the discussion of the ethics of captivity is a longer one and one for another day. In the meantime, I take the pictures.)



{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}

5 comments:

Noel said...

That is pretty badass! It reminded me of this Native American legend I learned about in elementary school about how the vulture got his look. Long story short, the Creator gives the vulture his choice of awesome bird styles, and the vulture is so vain he gets stuck with the ugliest one at the end of the rack. (It's told much better here: http://echoes.devin.com/watchers/buzzardclothing.html). But not so much in this case!!!

Adrian said...

Well, you know, you could always have a post someday wherein the cages/enclosures/glass is strategically and dramatically visible to make a point about it.

Of course, your ability to make the cages disappear is part of your talent with photography...I don't think it would be the case if I was the one taking the pictures...

Anca said...

Amazing colors on that bird!

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Noel: clearly this vulture knew what it was doing (maybe the other vultures warned it, or it learned from their example?)

Adrian: Interesting comment about using the cages to make a point; there's a British photography, Britta Jaschinski (http://www.brittaphotography.com/books.php), who's done a whole book called ZOO that does that--not even showing bars, but just making statements about wildnerness and captivity.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

(Forgive the spelling errors in the last comment.)

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...