I walked into my bedroom this morning and there, through the glass door to my deck, was a big bird staring back at me. Big bird. Not the fluffy yellow one whose voice hasn’t changed yet, this was a big gray and black sucker with an insolent stare. Darth Turkey. And behind him was another one, equally non-endearing. I’m thinking, “Nature is supposed to be afraid of humans,” but this guy didn’t blink. I went and got my camera and took a picture. With a flash. He didn’t care.
I went and got a better camera and took two more. He moved to the deck rail so I could get his better side. I think he and his pal sneered. It was disconcerting. And threatening.
So I e-mailed the first not-very-good picture to this friend of mine who’s usually very up on death. He was a Green Beret. Danger, if not his middle name, is at least something he nods at in the street. So I sent him the picture and said, “What is this?” He e-mailed back, “I think it’s a crow.” Right. It’s a forty pound crow. A crow on steroids. A crow that ate its Wheaties. I’d forgotten that he was a Green Beret from the Bronx. Nature kicks his ass regularly.
So I e-mailed another friend of mine who not only lives in the country, she wrote a novel in which the hero was an ornithologist. Or whatever you call a bird guy. She wrote back, “Looks like a turkey vulture. Charming creatures. Yours don’t have red heads, tho, which the adults do. Maybe you’ve got TEENAGE turkey vultures! The worst. Watch out for graffiti, vomit in the yard, mailbox bashing, condoms strewn all over. Damn hoodlums.”
Scientists. I’m surrounded by scientists. But I’m starting to think she’s right, they’re teenage vultures. Which leads me to wonder, what the hell are they doing on my deck? Do they know something I don’t know? Are they out there talking in ROMAN CAPS like Death in the Terry Pratchett books? “SHE’S GONNA GO ANY MINUTE,” they’re saying to each other. “PASTY FACED AS ALL HELL. SHE’S NOT GONNA LAST THE NIGHT.”
Meanwhile my pal keeps writing me. “Oh yeah, and they pee on their legs. I love that about them. They throw up when they’re scared, so they can fly lighter. I’m sure part of what they throw up lands on their feet. But they pee on their legs on purpose. They’re just so darn cute!” Now I know why nobody eats vultures. I don’t see anybody gathered round the table, fighting over the drumstick.
So now I have The Birds of Doom on my deck, peeing on their legs and throwing up–not while I’m watching, but they will– strewing condoms and bashing my mailbox, waiting for me to die. Unless they’re crows on steroids. And you wonder why I haven’t blogged lately. Between my neighborhood and my friends, I’m afraid to make a move.
If anybody out there knows what these things are, and they’re something BETTER THAN VULTURES, let me know. If they’re something worse, leave me with my illusions of mailbox trashing, leg-peeing carrion eaters, please. It’s been one of those headline weeks— Adorable Aging Dog Goes MIA, Returns to Grateful Owner; Epic Battle With Collaborator, “Why Do We Do This? Contrite Combatants Say; Glowing Toxic Blue Mold Consumes Basement, Bleach Saves Day and Health of All–and I don’t want it to end with “Giant Winged Mutant Alien Life Forms Carry Off Romance Writer, Film At Eleven.”
Really, I’ll take the teenage vultures.