Vultures

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

A shadow crosses my path. I look up and see the magnificent bird with its wings wider than my outstretched arms slowly spiraling above. There’s another and another. Perhaps eight birds all circling.

One splits off and quickly crosses the vast desert of the parking lot. The others spill out of their whirlpool and follow to the far edge before beginning their concentric dance once more. I never see a wing beat or flap, the feathered sails harnessing their energy from the wind.

Looking around, the eye first sees a forest of trees. Slowly the mind realizes the trees hide clusters of houses and buildings. Not just clusters, but an even larger forest of harvested wood and concrete, a canopy of asphalt. The great American suburban outback stretches for miles in all directions.

Looking again I see the birds filling the sky from horizon to horizon. There are perhaps twenty, maybe more. Though their individual motion is slow, they form a rapidly changing pattern, a fluid that flows across the sky.  An individual bird is first in one group, then it’s by itself and then merges into another group, a small part of the kaleidoscope of wings and feathers.

What are these birds looking for? What can feed twenty birds with their two meter wings? There are no buffalo carcasses in a suburban New Hampshire neighborhood. Although there are more moose around, it’s doubtful they would find the remains of one in a town of 90,000.

I look across the bleak blacktop, so dead the searches of death avoid it, and wonder. Is the bond to the land still as tight for these creatures as it was when this was still a real forest? Does the soul of the woods still whisper to its creatures through the new manmade skin?

Some animals adapt to the realities of our civilization. Others fade away and disappear. Vultures, those seekers of death, seem to thrive.

Is that our legacy, then, as bringers of death? Or is it a sign of hope that there are enough animals cycling through life to allow a squadron of vultures to darken the sky?

9 thoughts on “Vultures

  1. pranita patra

    I love the last line-“Or is it a sign of hope that there are enough animals cycling through life to allow a squadron of vultures to darken the sky?”

    We know one thing that enough animals that is us are cycling through life.. about other animals, the creatures to whom “the soul of the woods still whisper to its creatures through the new manmade skin”,(another line I really liked) the whisper is faint, quite faint at times, but it is hopefully going to grow stronger as our efforts to repair the damage expand. :)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Pranita. I hope we can repair the damage we’ve made in the world. Actually, the state I live in was once almost totally deforested. In the last 150 years it has come back remarkably and is now known for its natural beauty. So there is hope that can happen everywhere.

      Thanks again for your kind words.

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  2. Maggie Wilson

    I call these Turkey Vultures “Turkey Buzzers” because that’s the way I do things: sideways. Love ’em to bits and they are my first sign of spring.

    I think I like your last sentiment best, that is, they are “a sign of hope that there are enough animals cycling through life to allow a squadron of vultures to darken the sky.”

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Hi Maggie. I grew up in Ohio (that’s where I took the photo) and we called them Buzzards. Thousands show up in a place near Cleveland on March 15th every year. The local rock radio station is “The Home of the Buzzard”.

      It seems to think of buzzards/vultures as signs of hope and life, but perhaps it is the best way to think of it. The cycle continues.

      Thanks for the comments.

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  3. Dottie

    Great photo. Vultures and crows are my favorites. Just saw a turkey vulture picking at a dead squirrel yesterday on the side of the road on Continental blvd in Merrimack. Have never seen that before. Right up close and personal. It was beautiful.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Dottie. I took the photo in Ohio when I was there in May but the description of watching vultures was from this morning. Cool seeing the feeding part. Usually I just see them soaring, not eating.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Patty! Vultures are pretty cool – they are the largest animal I see on a regular basis. So, when I see pictures of you with wings, are they vulture wings?

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      1. Just Patty

        I wish I could see them on a regular basis! :)
        We don’t have them in Holland, except in the zoo of course.
        Yes, some of my wings are vulture wings, some eagle or raven wings as well. :)

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