On Turkey Vultures

Oct 5, 2015 by

I watched the turkey vulture swerve and bank over Highway 35, and thought of my friend who cringed when I recently mentioned that species. I had forgotten, until then, that her reaction is quite common.

I imagine it’s that bald red head, looking as if it had just emerged from the bloodied mass of a carcass (it may have). Or the silhouette against the sky of sharp wings that appear torn and scraggly. A living, breathing, soaring symbol of death and decay.

But I was surprised when I got to know a couple of turkey vulture teenagers at a wildlife rehabilitation center. It’s true—up close they still aren’t beautiful. But the first time I encountered them, I was touched to realize they were shy and not the slightest bit aggressive. In fact, they scampered away as I brought their meal of dead rodents into their enclosure.

In time, they grew to accept my presence but stayed cautious. That’s their innate personality; raptor experts know them to be gentle, but elusive birds. Their only real defense is to vomit a lump of foul-smelling, semi-digested meat, which deters most creatures.

Fortunately, the teenagers at the rehab center were never threatened enough by me to do that, but I’m glad they always remained wary.

Related Posts

Tags

Share This