As a member of the most widely distributed of the New World vultures, I have to say, I’ve basically got it made. I don’t really have any complaints, all things considered.
For one, I can fly. Can you imagine being born as something that can’t fly? Oh my god, how would you get anywhere? What, would you have to walk? On your legs? All day? Ouch. That sure would suck.
I don’t even have to flap my wings really, I kind of just soar around on updrafts, it’s a breeze. Admittedly, it does start to get cold up north sometimes and the winds can get a bit drafty. But then I just fly south and it’s warm. I’m migratory. Migratory means when it’s too chilly you go get cozy warm somewhere else. I don’t need a passport or boarding pass or anything, I just shake out these puppies (my wings) and get soaring.
Anytime anyone asks me, “If you could be any animal, which would you be?” My answer is always “keep being an Eastern Turkey Vulture,” no hesitation.
I don’t even have to hunt. I just wait to eat the animals when they’re already dead, easy. That rancid carcass on the side of the road no one will touch? Yeah, that's my cheat day. A lake pond dries up so all the fish and frogs desiccate and rot? Restaurant week, baby. Most predators have to tackle and kill some screaming deer fighting for its life. Not me. I just wait till they're dead, then I eat them. And guess what? Things are always dying and no one else wants to eat a dead animal. Except you know who does look forward to eating that electrocuted squirrel? This buzzard, that’s who. Ants also, but screw ‘em.
Plus my Eastern sub-species rarely migrates further south than the United States and because there are like only four trains here; this place is basically one big parking lot. It’s roadkill à la carte.
I don’t have many natural predators either. Who would eat a vulture? And even if some dumb hawk tries, I just puke up my most recent meal, which I’ll remind you was dead for a while, and then predators tend to pick a different target.
I know what you’re thinking though, Turkey Vultures have surely been significantly impacted by man’s ecological footprint and disregard for nature. Nope. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, ever heard of it? Try touching my tail, go ahead try, whoops! That’s a $100,000 fine buddy. That’s a one-year prison term buddy.
Guess what the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists me as? You never will, I bet you didn’t even know this was a category: “Least Concern.” Yeah. Let me tell you, there is nothing better for your anxiety than to wake up in the morning and remember that when it comes to your relative survival and proliferation on the planet, you’re at “Least Concern.”
And I could care less about telephone poles in my habitat, as far as I’m concerned they’re gray trees. Just gimme that flat rabbit on the interstate, baby.
The sad, lonely cry of the vulture I always hear about? Pshh. You do know I’m considered gregarious and tend to roost in large communities with other Eastern Turkey Vultures, right? It’s just when I forage that I tend to go off on my own. There’s something relaxing about lunch alone, you should give it a try.
But I suppose I can’t keep ignoring the obvious. No one is special, not even the Eastern Turkey vulture. You’ve been kind not to bring it up, but I can see it on your face. You think I’m hideous. It’s my raw-meat-colored, skull-like head with no feathers, isn’t it? I know what I look like, I’m hideous…
Oh wait! You’re not a female Eastern Turkey vulture so who cares what you think. I know I look good! The ladies can’t get enough of me, do you know how many mating circle perimeters I’ve hopped around? I’m not even going to say, nothing more uncool than that.
But for real, I’m fine with how I look, maybe start having a little self-confidence yourself. Because when I see you hating on Eastern Turkey vultures, all I hear is someone not comfortable with their own image. Take it from me, you’re just fine, keep that chin up. Don’t sweat the little things, like your hair, or your smile in pictures, or swerving on the road to avoid animals which actually causes more accidents than it prevents. Take it easy.