I have instructed my husband that when I die I would like a sky burial. I suppose there are rules forbidding that kind of thing for people though even the lowliest squirrel is rarely denied that privilege.
Circled around this vulture was the local grackle gang. Most were perched in the trees looking down with I assume some jealousy. A few did hop down to the ground making wary approaches but none dared to truly interfere.
The English word vulture comes from vulturus, which means ‘tearer.’ The grackles and I watched this vulture for a long time as it slowly and methodically tore off bits of meat with its sharp beak.
Then another vulture arrived. The red face told me it was a Turkey Vulture. The Latin name Cathartes aura is variously translated as purifying breeze or golden purifier. What a perfect description.
Like humans that eat meat, vultures prefer food that is freshly dead. I read that there is less incidence of disease and sickness where vultures are present in an environment.
But vultures won’t eat meat that has turned. I know this from experience, unfortunately. If a body gets too smelly I have to dial 311 for the City to come and collect.
I see vultures riding thermals here all the time. Our neighbourhood sits between the I-35 highway corridor and Airport Boulevard. Prime vulture territory not only because of the road kill potential but because these two busy roads are very wide creating lots of open space for vultures to spot carrion. Vultures have super keen eyesight. Turkey Vultures can also smell death from literally more than a mile away.
Vultures are huge birds. When I see one hanging from the sky I sometimes pretend it is a Thunderbird.
I was excited to see this posture. I was hoping to catch a shot of the famous horaltic pose where a vulture fully spreads its wings out — a distance of about six feet. Scientists have speculated that vultures do this for thermoregulation or to kill bacteria. Bah. I believe they do it because it probably feels nice to feel the wind push through your feathers.
But no luck. All it meant was that I startled it and it flew away.