Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your premiere outlet for vulture worship on the World Wide Web! Where would we be, I ask you, without vultures? Consider the plight of India, where steroid use in cattle has decimated the vulture population. In its place there's been an explosion of feral dogs -- and decaying carcasses, including the enlightened Farsis who dedicate their mortal remains to the sky.
One of my most pleasant memories of recent weeks is the afternoon when my daughter the Heir and I went buzzarding. It was her suggestion, because she wanted to see me happy.
How does one buzzard? (I've made up my own verb! Cool, huh?)
In the hamlet of Wenonah, New Jersey, there are clusters of tall pines in peoples' backyards. The countryside around Wenonah has been slash-and-burn developed in recent years, but there's still an active landfill in the area.
Every evening beginning about an hour before sundown, vultures by the dozens descend upon the pines of Wenonah in that inimitable vulturous way, soaring in with nary a wing flap, then suddenly alighting in a tree. Eventually the trees become packed with buzzards, all jostling one another for the best roosting limbs. Kind of like an extra large Christmas tree decorated with big black birds, all moving around restlessly.
I suppose most people would not find this entrancing, but I do.
For the first time on this particular buzzarding expedition, the Heir and I actually heard the buzzards making sounds. Vocalization is not something vultures are known for. Nightingales they are not. But when they've got a claw around a good roosting branch, and another of their kind challenges them for it, they emit a noise that's like a combination of a hiss and a quack. I've never heard anything quite like it. I tried to duplicate it with my vocal chords but couldn't. And I can caw like a crow -- and get the crows to respond.
We all must strive to improve ourselves as we pass through life, never stopping and heaving a sigh of satisfaction at the status quo. I am therefore dedicating myself to learning the vulture vocalization.
So if you're in my neighborhood, and you hear somthing hissing, it's probably me. If you hear a bagpipe, that's the dude in the next block who is not allowed to practice his instrument in the house.
This is the time of year when I begin my vulture posts in anticipation of the blessed East Coast Vulture Festival. It is held in Wenonah, New Jersey. No leap of logic in that.
Remember to keep the Sacred Thunderbirds in your hearts and souls, dear readers. They are Mother Nature's golden purifiers.
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