Surprised by Vultures

Turkey vultures are a common sight in our area. Quite ugly with their naked red heads sticking out from a mass of dark feathers, they make a much more pleasing impression when they circle overhead, with a wingspread almost as wide as an eagle’s.

These scavengers are quick to spot dead animals and efficiently clean up any road kill. They probably deserve more respect than we are willing to give them. They are, after all, Nature’s undertakers and fulfill an essential role in the natural order of life and death. Still, I always feel a slight shudder when I see them gorging on a lifeless carcass.

A few weeks ago, I saw a group of vultures circling over our property and sometimes dipping down so low that the dogs would bark at them. I had seen one or two on top of a nearby hill spreading out their feathers in the morning sun.

But I did a double take when I saw so many of these large dark birds looming like grim reaper clones on the hill top.

What was this – a vulture congregation? Two of them kept flying at each other, sparring like fighting cocks.

And then they took off together, like a slow-motion flying ballet troupe – silently, effortlessly, breathtakingly beautiful.

WPC: Surprise


About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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14 Responses to Surprised by Vultures

  1. I find it easier to appreciate them in flight and from a distance! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shoreacres says:

    I laughed at your title. It reminded me of “Surprised by Joy,” the great C.S. Lewis book. And how lucky you were to see such a display. I’ve only seen vultures soaring, sitting, or snacking. This certainly was a surprise.


  3. Tina Schell says:

    I’ve given a lot of thought to why we think vultures are ugly and eagles are beautiful. Must admit I’ve not really figured it out, but it’s definitely true. Maybe because they are harbingers of death??? In places where there are no vultures the dead animals are a real issue. I remember in Tasmania some of the local were saying they wished they had vultures. Go figure!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I suspect that it is the association with death that gives vulture a bad name. However, I’ve seen hawks and even eagles eating road kill and somehow the association with death doesn’t stick the same way as it does with vultures. I admire their elegant and graceful flight – once airborne, they are beautiful. I am also grateful that they clean up the environment as nature’s undertakers.


  4. Very cool experience, something I’ve not seen. Thanks for the post and pictures.


    • It was a strange experience seeing them fight but the most beautiful part was when they all rose up in the air and came flying in my direction. It reminded me of the super quiet flight of owls – it felt stealthy like that.


  5. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    Great pictures. I love these birds. I’m weird, but I find them beautiful, and sort of quietly sweet, even though they eat dead things and represent ends of important things like life.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Klausbernd says:

    Thanks for the amazing photos! We don’t see them in Norfolk, but Dina is familiar with them from Florida.


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