Yes that is what I said. Amazing. Vulture.Amazing is not the word most people put before a species that eats dead things along the road side (and elsewhere as well). And yes they have a face only a mother could love as well. Did I mention they eat dead things? Many days old dead things? Well that is their job and it is not their looks or their mode of survival I am amazed with. It is their mad flying skills!
It has being a wild,wonderful, frustrating and crazy few weeks (if not months) in the world. There are all types of conflict, hatred and lies in the news. And that is just from the primaries for the Republican candidate for president! So for a distraction,and my sanity, I turned off the radio and made a pointed effort not to listen to or read the news, online or printed, and observe the world out my window. That is when I saw a wondrous and amazing thing and (re)discovered the amazing vulture.
I was enjoying the trees, and other green things, during this “no news” sabbatical when I spotted a vulture off to the left of the road. It was sitting up high in a tree behind a tree line that paralleled the road. Just then it gives a little hop off the limb and I wait for it to flap its wings and rise but it simple aims it’s self down toward the tree line. My minds still thinks it will start to flap those massive wings and swing away from the trees. The mighty wings did start to flap but not up and away from the tress but directly into them! By the time I realized what I was seeing I almost missed the ballet of motion this massive winged bird had just performed. With a few unbelievable twists of the wings it was through the trees and flew across the road yards in front of me.
Now I know what you are saying that trees have to have space between them to grow and that should be sufficient for any bird to fly through. Maybe so but the vulture can have a wing span up to six feet wide. This is no Tweety Bird! Also we have a lot of pine trees in my neck of the woods and they fill up those space between trees.
As I was thinking about this today I recalled seeing vultures flying during a period of sustained high winds we had recently. We had twenty to thirty mile an hour sustained winds with up to sixty mile per hour gusts. The vultures would fly into the wind as if the wind parted for them. I cannot say the same of the wind concerning my work truck. I stayed in my lane but not without a fight! But then I am not a vulture.I am human and would not want to insult such an amazing creature!
I like vultures, too. You might be interested in an essay by Lee Zacharias, easiest to find today in
“The Best American Essays 2008”. It’s called “Buzzards.” Here’s an excerpt:
“On the ground a group of vultures is called a venue, but a group circling in the air is a kettle, as if they are swirling in a clear cauldron, a school of black fish swimming in a soup of pure air. Ungainly on the ground with their small heads, oversize wings, and heavy bodies, a gait that is at once a lurch and a run, vultures are astonishingly graceful in flight, a glide ‘in God’s fingerprint,’ as George Garrett would have it. … Vultures soar. Unlike most birds, whose breast muscles power the beating of the wings, creating lift and propulsion, a vulture simply opens its wings to the air currents that lift and keep it aloft. … The vulture’s flight is so beautiful because it appears effortless. And in fact it nearly is, for a vulture uses scarcely more energy in flight than it would in standing still.”