There were only a couple options for this letter, and although a vole is pretty cute, I was struck by the look of this lappet-faced vulture. Not a particularly handsome bird, but with his feather boa he seems to fancy himself rather dapper and I found this intriguing. Though they are scavengers that like to feast on any animal carcass they find, they do prefer their food as fresh as possible and are excellent at finding it before it gets thoroughly nasty and decayed. Which seems so civilized when you think about it.
Vultures tend to dig into the food they find with nothing going to waste. When diving head deep into a dead animal, it helps to be bald so that nothing sticks. The one shown here is an Old World vulture from Africa, hunting only by sight, and these are not closely related to the New World vultures in the western hemisphere. New World vultures have a much better sense of smell, which is odd when you discover that some of them will often cool themselves off on a sunny day by urinating on their own legs.
There’s honestly not an interesting fact about vultures that doesn’t involve something rather gross. Like the fact that turkey vultures can find hidden carcasses by detecting the methane gas that’s a product of decomposition. This has come in handy for humans, by using these vultures to detect leaks in cross-country gas lines because they’ll circle above them. As gross as they seem, I still think they’re pretty interesting creatures and fun to doodlewash. Next up, we have a Walrus in the lead for tomorrow, but this can all change, of course. Just three left after that, as the options grow even more limited, but almost to the end!