Turkey vulture flying overhead 7-9-10 Nikon D80 70–300 mm lens
It is Friday morning, hot and sunny with a strong easterly wind. When I go outside to fill one of my bird feeders I spot a poor dead rabbit in the road. Perhaps it is one that eats my purslane and I should not be sad, but I am. I hate to see any creature killed by man’s vehicles. I am wondering how long it will take the vultures to find it as I go back in the house.
I am sitting inside the den writing and looking out the window when one shows up. I grab my camera and take this photo from inside the house through the den window and the fence, then I creep quietly out the front door and sneak down the side of the garage, across the front of it, and around Gus’ truck which I intend to use as a blind. I do not want to disturb the bird or spook it off its prize. I want it to clean it up from out of the road. However, before I can even get into position I see the vulture flying up right over my head. I thought I had spooked it as I start taking pictures. Then, as I whirl around and snap away I see a couple walking up the sidewalk right past where the bird had been. They ask me if it is a hawk but I tell them no, it is a turkey vulture, which is nature’s version of the clean-up crew.
I walk over to the poor dead rabbit, pick it up by the end of its foot, and throw it over the fence into the wash! It must have been newly killed this morning for its body is still somewhat supple and the blood still looks red instead of black. Its death does not scare me or gross me out, I only feel sorry for its untimely death in such an unnatural manner. But this is natures way of providing for the others.
I call this giving it back to nature. I figure this way nature can take its course but if the vulture comes back it won’t be in danger from the cars and trucks anymore. And if it doesn’t, I would rather see it decay and become part of the earth again than to get run over and mashed by car after car. The carcass settles with a soft thud into the dry desert grasses. The dark eye stares blankly into this void. The rabbit’s soul is gone. A few minutes later I am not surprised when a raven lands on the carcass instead. I had seen them hovering around the area also.
So, I go back inside and wait. The turkey vulture comes back but he lands in the road where the dead rabbit had been. He stands there looking around and looking confused even though the rabbit is only 20 feet away from him over the fence in the wash. Then a jeep comes by and the vulture flies off. It does not return and neither does the raven.
Meanwhile, at my nearby bird feeders the rest of the birds feed as if nothing has happened at all.
I keep track of the rabbit in the wash all day long and though I remain inside so as not to disturb the birds the vulture and the raven never return. Just before sunset I check once again and its limp body still lies in the grass. One question remains: Will it still be there in the morning? You never know what happens in a desert night!