The Turkey Vulture

turkvultYesterday I was out for a walk with my poodle. On weekends we tend to go further afield to get a blast of exercise, fresh air and new stories that the scent trails have left us. Down on the road through Grimmon’s Woods, we sensed movement in the trees and I could tell that it might be something larger than a squirrel (and therefore risky though rewarding to pursue). We were as startled as the subject of our curiosity, when a mammoth turkey vulture became airborne for several seconds, and alighted on a branch about fifteen feet off the ground. I did my best to get a photo, and remain non-threatening, or he would have taken off again. The funny thing is, he kept hiding his small head and eyes from our line of view. Regardless of his huge body, he seemed to think he would be invisible if we were. With one last move towards his tree, he took heavy flight again for about twenty yards before coming to rest on a neighbouring branch.

Today on our walk, it being Sunday and the two of us having even more time for our walk, we ventured down the lane where we had seen the bird the day before. On the ground we saw what it was we had interrupted the day before: there lay the carcass, picked clean, of a racoon. The rib cage faced upward like the remains of Noah’s ark, the skull and teeth were rendered in perfect, picked clean relief. There was not so much as a bit of flesh remaining to even garner some sniffing interest from my poodle. I suppose the poor racoon had been hit by a car and then wandered senseless down the lane to die. Who knows. But it all seemed to make perfect sense that he had been respectfully cleaned up so to speak, and not become a fly coated, buzzing mound of rotting flesh.

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