Pat Shingleton: "Vulture Cool Down..."
Turkey vultures are beneficial to Louisiana as they not only clean the roadways of decomposing animals, also known as "road-kill," but feast on trash discarded by motorists. Its head-shape gives it easier access inside a carcass. Noticing the scavenging vultures along our Interstates and highways may be a stomach turner with another aspect of the bird that is borderline gross. To stay cool, it uses a process known as urohydrosis - a polite way of noting that it urinates on its legs to prevent overheating and serving two purposes for the vulture. The evaporating urine cools blood circulating through its legs and activates a disinfectant that eliminates germs that the scavenger may have absorbed from an earlier breakfast, lunch or dinner.