Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Once I got down past Stephenville on Route 67 I couldn't get away from the turkey buzzards. They literally look like turkeys until you get close and see those naked red heads staring at you. I spotted my first "gang" of vultures somewhere south of Stephenville when one of a set of seemingly interesting fencepost ornaments suddenly launched into flight and I saw I had been looking at a whole row of buzzards. They were a constant sight after that, feasting on road kill, hovering in trees, or circling in droves high overhead out in the middle of nowhere. I tried to shoot photos of them a dozen times or more by slowing to a crawl on the highway when there were no other cars around, which was often, hoping to get close enough in my car that I could get a good shot. The vultures would, without fail, allow me to get almost close enough, and then take off into the sky beyond reach. They take off pretty quickly for such a large bird. So I never got a really good photo of them. I did kill one with my car. I was on my way home after leaving Big Bend, on a nearly deserted highway going 70 mph when I spotted yet another vulture breakfasting on a road-kill cottontail. This was the only vulture who didn't fly away before I got too close. As I realized I was too close I swerved to the left. As the vulture realized I was too close it launched itself, but right into the front of my car. I must have knocked that bird fifty feet from the road. I felt bad. After awhile, though, I started noticing how many other vultures had become road-kill, so I realized it was part of the life-cycle out there in West Texas. The buzzard came back to haunt me though. At work the assortment of sample merchandise now includes two life-size turkey-buzzards cast in resin. They have become a fixture atop one of the cubicles, perennially scanning for victims.

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