V for Vulture

This past winter the last of our “vulture” trees fell. We knew it was coming; the old maple was old and rotting. Wanting to avoid the inevitable for as long as possible, we did not cut it down. Instead, we waited for nature to take its course and sometime between closing up in the fall and returning in April, it did.

There were three favorite perches for the turkey vultures to land on when we first bought the schoolhouse. The maple was the last to come down. The other two trees were completely void of bark and stood just beyond the tree line in the surrounding forest. We never knew what kind of trees they were just that the vultures loved to rest upon them. They too came down in recent years, one of them during a thunder storm. I had taken refuge from the storm in the house only to return outside and see that it was gone. I can now say without a doubt that when a tree falls in the forest, you don’t necessarily hear it. Surprising for a tree that size.

A lot of people commented on “our” vultures; how creepy and menacing they looked sitting on the dead trees but we loved them. We even named a few of them although there was no real way to distinguish one from the other. At times there’d be anywhere between six to ten of them drying their wings, cleaning their feathers or simply sitting and watching. Maybe that’s what creeped people out, the sitting and watching. Or maybe it wasn’t so much watching as it was waiting. We all know the role vultures play in the ecosystem.

They still come around now that the dead trees are gone. We see them circling, riding the air currents high above our home. They’ve even tried perching on a new tree from time to time but you can tell they think it just isn’t the same…

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