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Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017

New Neighbors

Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008, at 8:49 AM

During our travels over the years, we've seen some fantastic wildlife. Until recently, one of my favorite observations was a battle between hawks and ravens near Lake Mead in Nevada. I was able to watch for nearly an hour as two ravens and two hawks had a "dogfight" of sorts banging and crashing, diving, turning, and climbing into each other over my head. Neither of the species got the upper hand on the other, and the much larger ravens seemed just fine with not being able to fly as well as the hawks and relying on their size and toughness to keep from being run off.

I've commented before about the large number of birds around the farm, but now we have some new neighbors that seem to have taken over the air currents lately, and since they moved in, I have not noticed a hawk in the area. Turkey Vultures! I'd heard of Turkey Vultures years ago as a distant relative of ours was killed when his Air Force F-4 encountered one that crashed through the fighters canopy, but I'd never seen one, let alone knew anything about them.

I don't know if I've seen a more graceful bird in the air, nor one much uglier on the ground. With a 6 foot wingspan, it's tough not to see the scavengers soaring over the fields and valleys around the farm with their red head shining in the sun. They seem to never need to beat their wings to maintain flight, can turn on a dime, and I admit to being a bit intimidated at first when one went by me about 20 feet away. I got a good look over by the bird and I assume I was being evaluated as the main dinner course of a future gathering of him/her and their buddies.

I've researched the eating habits of these aerial giants and now know that I'm not on the menu, but somehow the mental picture of being attacked by a giant bird doesn't equal the feeling. I'm over the fear of being on somethings dinner table as the main course, and I'll continue to watch the graceful swoops and climbs of these unusual birds. Still, that uneasy feeling of re-entering the food chain will haunt me a bit, or not.

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The City Slickers
Brian Hoag
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