My Encounter with a Turkey Vulture

My minivan nearly runs over a turkey vulture today.  A turkey vulture.  On my street!  I take a picture and watch this bold bird swoop from tree to tree.

Turkey Vulture in a Tree in the Neighborhood

 I learn that turkey vultures can smell a dead creature from miles away.

Turkey Vulture

These birds detect death by smelling the special gas released once something begins to decay. I pull over to the side of the road and approach this turkey vulture.  He’s surprisingly calm, and I figure it’s because turkey vultures have no natural predators; why should he fear me?   

I watch him feeding on roadkill.  Rarely will they kill their own food (that’s good because what if he wanted to feast on me?) Instead, they seek out what’s already dead and rotting and stinking.

I don’t like this bird.  I don’t like him at all.  He’s not very attractive, and he can’t even sing.  He just grunts and hisses. I also learn that turkey vultures cool off by urinating all over themselves.  And if I make him mad, he’ll spew semi-digested meat into my eyes. Finally, if I would have happened to harm this bird (by running him over, which I nearly did), I would have to pay $15,000 dollars and go to prison for 6 months. 

I do not like this bird. 

Why would this bird appear in my lovely blog?  Apparently, whether I like this bird or not, he plays a vital role in the ecosystem.  He cleans up rotting things and prevents disease.  We need him.   

Journal:  What thing don’t I like that I might actually need? 

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0 Responses

  1. We have hundreds of these things around where I live. They do a really good job of keeping the roadkill cleaned up. Which is good–in the Florida heat, that stuff can get nasty, fast. I don't love them, but I appreciate them.

  2. I am learning to appreciate these. I noticed the street was cleared of dead squirrels because of them.

  3. Likewise, we have hundreds in my neighborhood. I too agree that with the south Florida heat they serve a much needed purpose. However, they are just down right ugly…

  4. Happily, we have none of these repulsive creatures in NZ (maybe because there are no native land mammals? Give or take a couple of bat species). Point taken about their usefulness though.