Buzzard/Vulture Story Gripping The News

Gotta love that BBC. There's a story about vultures interfering with a planned "body farm" in Texas. The farms are used by scientists who bury cadavers to study human decomposition to help police better determine the time and manner of death at crime scenes. Texas State University wanted to build the nation's largest "body farm" of cadavers, but the plan is on hold because it will attract vultures. The proposed body farm is near an airport and the vultures could collide with the planes.

All the papers in the United States have headlines like:

Buzzard's Buffet
Buzzard's Halt 'Body Farm' Plan
Buzzards, Planes, Body Farm Don't Mix

Buzzard is the folk name in the United States for vultures. However, in Europe there is an actual common buzzard, which is kind of similar to what we in the US know as the red-tailed hawk. So you have some people in the US who call hawks buzzards, which probably led to this story, Buzzards Prove Problematic At Texas Body Farm incorrectly using an image of a red-tailed hawk for the story instead a vulture. Yes, I know red-tails will sometimes eat roadkill, but really it's turkey vultures and black vultures that they're worried about.

However, leave it to the BBC to get the most accurate version--calling the birds vultures and using a correct graphic of a black vulture with their headline, Vultures Pick Off Human Body Farm.

What's weird is that they want to see what happens to bodies in shallow graves, completely being exposed, etc...but they want to keep vultures out. There was even a plan to put bodies in a vulture proof cage. Okay, first of all, turkey vultures look for food by smell--a cage is not going to keep them away--they'll still be attracted by that tasty dead body smell. Second of all, if a body is out in the elements, and vultures are also out in those same elements, wouldn't it make sense to let the birds "have at it"?