Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Death Of A Buzzard

I actually killed a buzzard.

In my entire lifetime, I've only seen one or two dead on the highway; it seems the nasty things---as bulky as they appear to be---always manage, somehow, to get out of the way of that oncoming vehicle.

Buzzards. Scavengers. Connoisseurs of carcasses and other things dead or dying.

I hit one today. Killed that nasty thing graveyard dead.

And cracked the windshield on my Ford Windstar. I wasn't moving slow.

Doing 70mph on a two-lane highway out west of Fort Worth, Texas, there was little time or room to maneuver. Besides, I'd seen this before; they sit crouched over the roadkill until they realize you mean business, then they flap those huge wings and get out of the way.

Except this one didn't.

He tried, I'll give him credit. He flapped his wings for all he was worth. And he got off the ground, eventually. He made it to just about rear-view mirror height before he was unceremoniously introduced beak-first to a 1996 Ford Windstar. There was an enormous thud, the windshield cracked, and the king of roadkill was history...the scavenger had become the scavenged. I'm sure all his buzzard buddies gathered around to pay their last respects before taking a dig at what was left of him.

How in the world did I hit a buzzard?

Those thing always manage to get out of the way in time. But this one didn't. He couldn't.

I didn't stop to do an autopsy on what was left of him, but I have an idea of what brought about such an untimely demise.

He was too full to avoid the oncoming vehicle. What he probably expected to be a short snack became his Last Supper, if you will. The filth and decay that he had ingested had settled too heavily on his digestive system; the unexpected weight of the putrid garbage he was enjoying kept him from getting off the ground, and out of harm's way.

I'm sure it was not the first vehicle that had ever honked a warning at him. And I gave him plenty of time to get off the ground, out of the way. Which was why this surprised, even shocked, me.

There was no excuse for this ugly old bird to die; he had plenty of notice that I was coming.

But he was too busy devouring the carcass of something else that had died on that same road. The rotting remains that had sated his appetite ultimately weighted him down, kept him from taking flight...flight that could have saved his life.

There was no escaping, though he had ample warning. His craving for corruption killed him.

And it didn't just cost the buzzard. I've got a cracked windshield to deal with.

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