I’ve had an interest in the Turkey Vulture since 2002 when I first lived in the Old Library. They entertained me daily as they perched on the telephone tower at Hamilton and Division west of the library. They came in the morning as if to plan their day, and again in the late afternoon as if to discuss their successes; dependable as the sun rising and setting.
Sometimes, after a rain shower, they would sit with their back to the sun and spread their wings. Nature was their ‘hair’ dryer. Like people who attend meetings, some vultures arrived early for the gathering, and some flew in at the tail-end, missing the whole agenda.
I could see them clearly from my patio, and they were quite ugly. Scary looking. The vulture’s heads were red, and their hooked white beaks looked ominous. Usually, they would play in the sky before going to work. They were magnificent as they soared, swooped, and circled, rarely flapping their wings. I enjoyed watching their ease of random precision playfulness.
According to https://www.audubon.org, Turkey Vulture wings are long and narrow with a span of five feet. Their underwings look black in the front and silver in the back.
These birds do not kill; they are opportunists. They dine on dead and decaying animal carcasses that become breeding ground for disease. Although they won’t win the most beautiful feathered friend contest, they are grand-champions for keeping us free from rabies, hog cholera, and other plagues.
I’m not negating what nasty neighbors they can be, especially for those living around the telephone tower, but like people, they contain a mixture of positive and negative. They contribute to a healthy ecosystem, are mesmerizing to watch, are attentive parents, participating community members, and earn their keep every day.
We can focus on the bad, or we can appreciate the benefit we gain from their instincts.
If we grasp the benefit of Turkey Vultures, maybe we can do the same with people; see beyond visible negative traits, focus on their dependability, talents, and contributions to their family and our community.
Nature teaches us so much if we only pay attention, and it is free. Like the vulture, many of us are annoying. Some even disgusting opportunists. Up close, we can be ugly. But, from a distance combined with a simple Google search for perspective, we can discover missing meaningful pieces to the whole big picture.
(Endnote: Many vulture species are rapidly declining in numbers, primarily because of various pollutants. In North America, the primary cause is poisoning from lead bullet fragments from spent ammunition.)
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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