Sunday, November 27, 2011

Family Picnic

I was out shopping and noticed a family of turkey vultures picnicking alongside the road.  There had to be more than 35 of these huge birds hanging out in the trees, chattering with each other.

You can just make them out as little black spots on the branches of the trees.  In person they are much bigger.  About the size of a child.

I once read a story about these birds.  There was a young boy who would go out to his backyard and play after school.  He would toss a red ball around by himself.  Apparently a turkey vulture spotted him and sort of adopted him as a playmate. (Shame on you if you thought this was a Stephen King posting!) Every afternoon the boy would come home and the bird would be waiting to play - sometimes meeting him at the bus stop and walking home with him.

These birds eat dead animals.  If they find road kill, they will drag it off of the road (how considerate) and then feast out of the way of traffic.  Once they 'complete the digestive cycle', the 'remains' are completely sterile.  Their digestive tracts get rid of any parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc., that was in the dead animal.

If the animal that they find is too large for their family to eat by themselves, like a deer or a cow, one of them flies over to invite other families to come and join in the feast.  Party time!

Judging by the amount of birds and the smell - oh the smell - I would say that they found something rather large.  I wasn't about to investigate further.

But what a nice place to have a picnic!

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