Monday, January 17, 2011
Vultures: “Birds of a Feather, Disgusting Together”
Vultures riding the air currents are a common sight in our neighborhood. We get closer views on nearby roads when they pull apart dead deer as we drive by. And just up the street last week I saw two vultures apparently searching for a sliver of meat on the discarded bones of Kentucky Fried Chicken as they picked apart a trash bag as three intimidated crows waited nearby.
After my folks moved here in 1997, my dad one day mentioned he saw a vulture that morning sitting on the split-rail fence just outside the front door of their apartment.
“I told him I wasn’t ready yet,” Dad quipped.
Late Thanksgiving Day afternoons I used to put the remains of our holiday turkey out for the foxes to enjoy—until one day I noticed the vultures beat the foxes to the treat. Now I put out the treat only after dark, when the vultures are roosting.
Increasingly vultures use the ridges of neighborhood rooftops as roosts—two or three vultures here or there—in the morning wings outstretched for the sun to dry nighttime dew before they slowly flap off into the cool morning air in search of road-kill venison brunch.
But what if vultures—protected by federal law—come to your neighborhood by the hundreds or thousands? Then you might not consider them just somewhat interesting and definitely ugly. Homeowners in Staunton, Virginia, have lots of words for the flocks that use their city as a warm, wintertime roosting area: disgusting, stinking, mean.
Darryl Fears writes about Staunton’s struggles with wintering vultures in “Birds of a feather, disgusting together,” in Sunday’s Washington Post. Warning: Parts of this article are graphic. To link to the article, CLICK HERE.