Grit Blogs > At Home in Ohio

Committee Meeting Up in the Air

Connie Mooreturkey vultures gathered in tree

The committee is back in town. They spend their days on the road and all things are up in the air by the time they gather for a conference.

At the south end of Enon, Ohio, on the west side of the road is a high-rise conference room they use most evenings. Towards sunset they fly in, go over the day’s news and settle into an otherwise quiet retreat.

They’re not much to look at. Business suits are black to brownish-black. No hats or ties. They prefer bare heads and no restrictions to hinder their stylish moves. They are big guys who can put the fear of being ripped apart into the hearts of smaller businesses of bird nature only if one has already succumbed to the last hours.

Turkey vultures are a natural sight in the skies of Ohio. Enon is blessed with a committee or wake as several together are called. Sometimes they’re referred to as a kettle when numerous birds are coasting in circles on air drafts. Blessed, yes, for they do more clean-up than a road crew when it comes to decaying animals in fields and on roads. Their sense of smell is large and can point them in the direction of a meal over a mile away.

As they take flight each morning, their six-foot wing span takes them up where warm thermals can keep them riding the winds for hours. When they get hungry they skim lower to the ground until picking up the scent of freshly killed mammals such as rabbits, deer, dogs, cats, squirrels and yes, even skunks, which they have been known to dissect and remove the offensive scent glands. They will also dine on snakes, lizards, fish and other birds.

Appearing self-centered in nature, they stand just under three feet tall from top to tail tip, on yellow feet. Their heads are bare of any feathers and have a distinctive red skin. Hooked beaks are white. FYI — no feathers on the head means no messy clean-up when dinner is done.

Our Enon committee no doubt nests in nearby woods where there is an abundance of rotting and downed trees. The site of their high-rise tree is part of two acres that includes a nearby creek, making an ideal location for roosting and setting up housekeeping.

a vulture letting others in on what he knows

On the ground they’re rather awkward, moving in ungainly hops, often using their wings to stabilize themselves. In early morning they can be seen standing with wings spread out, warming themselves in the sun or drying their feathers from the night’s dew.

In the air they’re the epitome of grace. Soaring high on thermals, drifting in ever-widening circles, cruising from west to east and beyond, they are freedom in motion. They are a sight to behold.

They are a definite plus for the land. Fine specimens of aviation. Figures of authority who are willing to stoop low to clean up messes left by others, yet taking nothing before its time. Down to earth business in an otherwise flighty world. Solid figures in the landscape called Ohio.