Have you ever bought a new car, and then everyone on the road suddenly had it too? The Turkey Vulture is my new car, so to speak.
After an enlightening visit to the Woodland Park Zoo’s raptor program a couple months ago, my husband and I realized that not every large, dark-colored bird of prey circling above us was a “hawk” or “eagle”, general terms we’d throw out there because we had nothing else to go on. With our identification skills for raptors lacking and our binoculars far from “good”, it never occurred to us that the alien-looking Turkey Vulture we vaguely knew from childhood books and Westerns would be so prolific in the Pacific Northwest. After our revelation, we noticed those naked red heads and wobbly, V-shaped flight patterns everywhere, even more than hawks and eagles. We’ve become deeply interested in this bizarre creature; its presence is a favorite companion to our car trips and walkabouts now that we know what to look for, and suddenly I find them quite beautiful.