Sunday, September 19, 2010

Buzzard Sunday

Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time and if you're really lucky you have your camera with you.

Our home is on a "mostly straight" stretch of road in a rural area. Vehicles tend to travel much faster than they should. And because we are in a rural area we have tons of deer. Both ends of our property road frontage as well as a couple of places in between have heavily travelled deer crossings. This summer alone there have been three deer killed out front and countless near misses. One Sunday morning, about 1:30am, we heard an all too familiar screech and a thump. No people were hurt but the deer did not have such luck. By the time we got home from church that afternoon, there were thirty-five turkey vultures meandering around across the road. It was fascinating. There were twenty-four vultures in the old cemetery across the road, though this photo only shows eighteen.These vultures are exhibiting a behavior called the Horaltic Pose, thought to dry their wings, warm their bodies (even though it was 95 degrees that day), and bake off bacteria from the head and legs. We won't go into details.

I tried to walk up the hill behind them to get some shots of the vultures against the dark sky of an approaching storm but being generally non-aggressive, almost shy, they all flew off except for one.

It was a very hot, oppressive day with that suffocating heaviness that descends upon you and just before the storm front rolls in over the hill you start to sweat like mad. I mean, the sweat just starts squirting out of your pores.

I went up on top of the hill to get storm cloud pictures, lifting my Sunday skirt and straddling the bank in my sandals. Then, without even one warning drop, I was caught in a massive downpour. By the time I ran down the hill and reached the house it was over.

A minute later the sun and blue skies were reappearing. That was the end of our fierce summer storms and the beginning our our long, dry, blasting hot weather.

Buzzard Sunday. That's how I think of that day. I wanted to share the first photo with you before we got too close to Halloween. There aren't too many things I'm squeamish about and to me, Buzzard Sunday was not at all creepy though I can understand how some people would not find the whole thing as fascinating as I did. I just don't want Buzzard Sunday to be a Halloween thing.

No, I think of Buzzard Sunday as an opportunity to see how our natural world works. Suspend your preconceptions about turkey vultures and google them. I bet you'll find some surprises and a new, even if only a tiny, appreciation for buzzards. True, the way they are physically and behaviorally is kind of "rough" but it's a function of the way they live and makes perfect sense. Form follows function in their design.

The coolest thing about buzzards? They soar.

It's like God decreed, "You're a buzzard. OK, sorry about that but we needed one. Let me make it up to you. You can soar."

Vultures spend the vast majority of their day soaring, wings out, tipping a bit here, flapping once in a great while. They read the air and they soar as naturally as you and I breath. Free. I don't know- I'm not a big meat eater but maybe ....

Have you had a fascinating encounter with our natural world?


  1. Oh, my! What cool photos. That buzzard one is a great halloween photo.
    I love your header photo, too.

  2. I guess the Halloween thing can't be avoided but I very much appreciate your comment. It was a pretty cool sight to see.