Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wild Wildlife: Dirty Birds

I was at my computer, minding my own business, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a huge dark shape gliding over the bricks of the apartment building opposite mine.

It often happens that I’ll see the shadows of hawks and crows as they fly overhead; sometimes swallows dart among the buildings, and once a mourning dove landed on the air conditioning unit just outside my window and took five minutes, in typical ditzy-dove fashion, to realize that, OHMIGOD! There was someone ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLASS!! and fly away, wittering in alarm.

But this time the shadow I saw was that of a black vulture, and the bird wasn’t just passing by, soaring majestically on a thermal—it was landing on the chimney of the building across the way. A moment later, another black vulture landed next to it.

I gave up on minding my own business and ran for my camera.

[I'd like to say that images were blurred
to protect the birds' identities, but really my old camera
just ain't what it used to be.]

For a while the vultures just stood there in their characteristic, hunched, vulture-y way, but then they became more agitated, pacing back and forth across the chimney top and flapping their wings. And then It happened. Yes, that’s right—right in front of all those apartment windows, right in front of the world, the vultures engaged in the behavior that is referred to by ornithologists as the “cloacal kiss.”

They didn’t even have the decency to the do it behind closed doors—no, they were visible for all to see who were leaning out their windows with a zoom lens trained on them.

Have they no shame??

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Thanks for making me laugh out loud!

mainly mongoose (Lynda) said...

Lovely to see such a species 'doing its thing' in the city. Although I must admit I always get a bit nervous when I see vultures loitering, for no apparent reason, near me. Do they know something that I don't...?

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