Black vultures have been swarming near my house the past two days. I've driven the road in both directions without seeing any signs of roadkill, so I don't know what's holding their attention. This photo shows only a few of the ugly birds that were flying nearby yesterday morning:
They were a noisy bunch, too. If your curiosity extends to morbid bird noises, you can click this link, then scroll down the page and click the play arrow on the "preflight call and wing noise" bar to listen to a sample of the ruckus they were raising.
As I watched them, the vultures began settling in the treetops two doors north of my house. These birds are big!
I thought they were gone when I left the house a while later, but I was wrong. I came home to find this one:
This creature was standing beside my neighbor's driveway, which is separated from mine by a narrow patch of grass on the south side of my house. I felt surrounded. This bold bird looked for all the world like it was directing traffic: "This way, guys . . . slow and easy . . . keep it moving . . . plenty of room for everybody."
I took that last photo from the car window when I stopped near the end of the driveway to collect the mail. The bird held its wings in that outspread position until I stepped out of the car, keeping my steps lively and all my limbs in motion to make it obvious that I was alive. The vulture kept its eyes on me while I walked the short distance to the mailbox, and I watched it just as intently.
When I turned around and headed back toward the car, I got the distinct impression that the vulture viewed my presence as nothing more than an annoyance. It watched me from its driveway spot for another couple of seconds, then leisurely flew a few feet across the street into the low branches of a tree, where it continued to keep me under surveillance.
Today they're back again. I saw them earlier when I left to go buy groceries, and I can hear them out there now. One landed briefly on the roof a little while ago. They're beginning to creep me out. I wish they'd hurry up and strip whatever carcass is keeping them here, then move along.