When a WAKE turns into a KETTLE, run for your life!

turkey vultures buzzards

Being a Minnesota boy, I always thought that our dangerous animals were timber wolves and moose and that’s it, and that here in North Carolina, panthers and bears and red wolves and wild boar and lynx comprised what was dangerous and that’s it. But now I’m meeting up with huge numbers of vultures. I’ve never seen anything like it.

While out on Communion Calls yesterday I disturbed a “WAKE OF VULTURES”, which is what a group of turkey buzzards are called when they are feeding on a carcass. Gruesome. The fellow pictured here takes a bit of looking at to see what you are looking at. Even though he is flying away, his head is turned back and looking directly at you, staring at you, noting who you are, saying to you ever so dreadfully: “You’re not so big. Fifty of us could finish you off in a few minutes! Just you wait!”

This is about the northernmost stretch of their normal territory, which means the ones in these parts can have a wing-span edging on toward seven feet. What a fright! What scares me about these guys is that they can congregate in enormous groups. Down the way in Brevard there is always a “KETTLE OF VULTURES” (meaning they are in flight, stirring around as in a vortex in a kettle), near the Triangle Marathon gas station on the Southwestern end of town. But out here in the Smoky Mountains, just yesterday, I saw a KETTLE nearby that had what looked to be 175 vultures, no exaggeration. I thought perhaps more like 225. I mean, what are they planning to feed on up there? Why do they wait, stirring the kettle like that? It seems to me that if they put their minds to it, they could easily kill live prey just by sheer numbers, including human prey. Yikes! So many!

Anyway, an active imagination is sharpened by not watching TV! (I don’t have one.) I heartily recommend just taking in the show outside. It’s refreshing. That helps purity of heart, agility of soul. Nature is absolutely wonderful. Most entertaining. Having said that, here’s a heart-stopping video of a just-born calf. The vultures are demons. Relentless. But, with a little love, they are stoppable, and yet, oh my…

If you want to make it that demons will have a really difficult time trying to bother you, regular confession is the best way to go. If you are repentant, that’s pretty much a guarantee of purity of heart and agility of soul. And you’ll have plenty of mama cows, that is, guardian angels, to protect you. [I’m now ducking for cover, having just compared my guardian angel to a mama cow!]


Filed under Nature

4 responses to “When a WAKE turns into a KETTLE, run for your life!

  1. pelerin

    I do like your analogy with Confession Father. That’s quite a film showing the cows acting together protecting the young calf from the marauding vultures.

    I remember being shocked the first time I went up the Pic du Jer in Lourdes and started to watch some large birds circling above me thinking they looked just like vultures in old Disney films and then realising that they WERE vultures. I had no idea up to that moment that they lived in Europe and had certainly never seen them in Britain except in the Zoo.

    Being curious I have just googled ‘vultures Britain’ and have seen the newspaper headline ‘Vultures spotted circling over Britain’ one even surprisingly seen over Croydon – a London suburb! So we do have the odd one or two although hopefully no wakes or kettles as you have in the wilds of North Carolina.

    I also found news about a woman who fell in the Pyrenees and the poor soul was subsequently eaten by vultures in a short space of time. I remember reading somewhere that farmers in the Pyrenees are no longer allowed to leave any dead animals out in the open, as was once their custom, due to ‘health and safety.’ Consequently vultures are going short of food and starting to attack live sheep. Politicians behind desks are dictating to farmers who are not at all pleased at their interference with farming customs.

  2. sanfelipe007

    ” What scares me about these guys is that they can congregate in enormous groups. ”

    This made me think of a certain Parish. Shame on me.

    “Anyway, an active imagination is sharpened by not watching TV! (I don’t have one.) I heartily recommend just taking in the show outside. It’s refreshing. That helps purity of heart, agility of soul. Nature is absolutely wonderful.”

    Absolutely agree. I, too, watch no TV*. I found that I began to covet less (and pull out less hair) as a result. For me, all TV seems to do is persuade the viewer to covet. Even the “news” seems more an exercise in false witness than anything else.

    *To paraphrase Samuel Clemons, “If you don’t watch TV, you are uninformed; if you watch TV, you are misinformed.”

  3. meshugunah

    We have a group (colony?) of turkey buzzards living on the roof of the high school a block from my house. They do a wonderful job of cleaning up roadkill all over the county; the PWD appreciates the co-operation!

    Perhaps because the colony is fairly small, no one around here sees them as a threat.

    Concur with the opinions regarding TV. Haven’t watched for 3-4 years now, and find I don’t miss it. Now to start winding back internet use…

  4. pelerin

    I wrote that last sentence before watching the French news last night which happened to lead with a visit by President Hollande to the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris. He was booed and whistled at by the farmers present and there appeared to be a brawl between some farmers and the police there!

    As meshugunah mentions these birds do (or did as in the Pyrenees) an excellent job of cleaning up carcasses and it looks as though the politicians must take advice from the farmers when deciding to change rural practises.

    Years ago we used to hear a lot about ‘The Food Chain’ which seemed to make a lot of sense. If one animal or plant was eradicated then that would upset the balance of the Chain. Then it was ‘Global Warming’ and now it’s ‘Climate Change.’ I wonder what the next secular belief will be?

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