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.