Monday, June 05, 2006

Turkeys gone wild

Strange week for animal encounters. Last Thursday en route along the Prairie Path to substitute teach at Jefferson Elementary School I saw a turkey vulture feeding on a carcass right in the middle of the path. As I approached I thought it was a crow, but it's head was too small. It let me get to within 20 feet before it stepped away and spread its wings out halfway. Then within five feet it spread them all the way, a majestic eight feet or so, and with one swoop lifted off the path to land in the field and wait for my departure.

My most memorable encounter with a turkey vulture was on the Appalachian Trail, hiking into Pearisburg, VA. The trail near Pearisburg is on a ridge line that U-turns around a steep, cliff-lined valley, with all sorts of side trails going to lookout points. At one of these lookouts I approached and saw a turkey vulture perched on a gray boulder. Just like the most recent sighting, it let me get within five feet before it casually dropped off the rock and swooped off into space. I'll never forget the sight --the whoosh and rise... the green mountains in the background... the effortless grace of such a homely bird.

Saturday morning, walking home from Jewel, I saw a turkey and a male/female pair of mallard ducks under an old oak tree on Augusta. Yeah. Go figure. My first turkey sighting in the city limits.