Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

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What a Turkey!

Posted on May 14, 2009 by Lisa Ricard Claro   2 Comments | Posted in bird · turkey · vulture
Driving home with my daughter I was forced to brake to avoid plowing down a turkey vulture. Yes, I’m sure. A turkey vulture.

Have you ever seen one of these bad boys up close? With
his pinkish-red head, beak stuck on belligerent, and long, narrow body he was one formidable bird. I would have closed all the car windows but I didn’t want to look like a wuss in front of my teenager.

Still, I did wonder at our reactions should he hop in through the sunroof and join us.

For the next three minutes or so we blinked at the buzzard and he blinked back. He finally grew bored waiting for us to rot into a satisfactory meal and sauntered onto a neighbor’s driveway. Then he really impressed us. He spread his wings and trotted off and up into the air. That ugly bird was transformed the minute he took flight. He was majestic. He was beautiful.

I was curious enough about this big honkin’ bird that I did some Googling. First, I learned that my beloved state of Georgia is home to the annual Buzzard Day Festival (not kidding). Furthermore, I now know that turkey vultures are 25-32 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 72 inches. They can soar upwards of 10,000 to 20,000 feet on thermal currents, and can maintain their flight for hours, often traveling as far as 200 miles a day in search of food. And get this: if threatened, they regurgitate from their bellies a putrid-smelling pile of half-digested carrion. (Every middle-school boy in America wishes he could do that.)

So now you know more than you ever thought you would about the glorious turkey vulture. I’m surprised, too. I never thought I’d blog about a creature that thinks a putrefying corpse is a gourmet meal, but I really did learn something important: As ugly as this bird is on the ground, he is a glorious sight in the air. Being in his element made all the difference in how he was perceived. I’ve thought a lot about that.

I’m still keeping my sunroof closed for a while though. Even if he doesn’t drop by in the feathery flesh, there are other things he might drop, and I don’t think that would be as impressive as his wingspan.

Til next time,

2 Responses to "What a Turkey!"

  1. Comment by anita
    May 14, 2009 at 8:03 pm  

    Very interesting, Lisa. You’re absolutely right to keep the sunroof shut to avoid uninvited guests.

  2. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    May 15, 2009 at 10:00 pm  

    Am I the only one thinking of the beneficent Mr. Hall right now????

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