Interview with a Vulture

“Stay away,” she warned.

Surprised she didn’t fly away from me, I asked what was wrong.

“Ate too much,” she said. “Too heavy to fly.”

I’d never been so close to a vulture. But it’s true: when they gorge themselves, they can’t fly.

“Stay away or I’ll puke on you.” She wasn’t kidding. Vultures use a skunkly defense. But skunk scent is sweet compared to vulture vomit, a foul brew that sends cats and coyotes away.

“Saw you on CBS Sunday Morning,” I said, “at Roaring River.”

“Glamour shots,” she spat. “You see us gliding thermal currents and roosting in trees. But they rarely show us working.”

“Buzzards are nature’s cleanup crew,” I tried to impress her.

“Whatever,” She was annoyed I called her a buzzard. “You know what burns my bird butt? You fling cardboard and car parts, cans and plastic, bottles and butts, old tires and refrigerators. You disrespect hard-working migrants. And you shoot road signs. Meanwhile, you give vultures a bad reputation even though we clean your roadside better than you do.

She was on a roll. “Oh, and with no feathers on our faces and legs, we stay quite clean, thank you very much.”

“Except when you vomit,” I said.

“We’re a clean shot at that, too,” she replied. “Ask the coyotes.”

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