This Thursday’s Child—Migration Time

As I was waiting to have the zipper on my leather jacket repaired, I happened to glance out the shop window. Soaring and swirling over the nearby intersection was the largest kettle of turkey vultures I’d ever seen.

Most people shudder at the thought of them, yet their grace in the air is beautiful. Ordinarily, I only see one, or a pair, and they’re usually flying in the opposite direction than I’m riding, while I’m without my camera in my hand. Someday, I hope to get a close-up shot that includes most of their wingspan. If, after I saw and captured this, they headed south, their timing was ideal, since temperatures are some twenty degrees lower this week.

The first time I caught one in the camera was completely by accident. I sighted a jet high over my neighborhood, even though there wasn’t a contrail. I got it in the shot, and was thrilled, because my point-and-shoot doesn’t have the greatest power of zoom.

Only after I’d uploaded that afternoon’s shots to the computer did I see that below the jet, heading in the opposite direction, was a single vulture. If their timing next year is close to what it was this year, and if their borrowed silo and nesting site shed aren’t demolished in the meantime, a pair will be back in my area during the second full week of March.

This shot has 26 of the birds sharing the freedom of flight.