Vultures and visitors

Vultures and visitors

…they shall mount up with wings like [vultures],

they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31)

I enjoyed a slow ride through local (Montgomery County, MD) back roads recently, and as I drove around a bend in the road I came across this black vulture and a few of her friends hanging out on an old log. I admit I surprised myself as I admired her beauty and peaceful presence. Yet stop and admire I did, for quite some time.

Over the winter I read an interesting book by Debbie Blue titled Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible. In her chapter on vultures, Blue shares that references to eagles in English translations of the Bible quite likely would be more appropriately translated as references to vultures. Blue also describes an ancient Egyptian belief of the vulture as a protective mother-god “whose enormous wingspan could encompass and enfold everything.” A “Mother of Mothers who existed from the beginning, and gave birth to all that is.” (p.69) Equally important and timely, Blue encourages readers to consider (and reconsider) our own and our culture’s “narrow definition of what is beautiful” (p.79), perhaps seeing “beauty in places other than where we’ve been programmed to see it.” (p.79)

Here is a portion of Margaret Atwood’s poem Vultures, Blue includes in her book:

Frowzy old saint, bald-
headed and musty, scrawny-
necked recluse on your pillar
of blazing air which is not
heaven: what do you make
of death, which you do not
cause, which you eat daily?

I make life, which is prayer.
I make clean bones.
I make a gray zinc noise
which to me is a song.
Well, heart, out of all this
carnage, could you do better?

And if you’ve kept reading this far, hooray for you! Here are a few additional pictures from the week…

A Green Heron from that same drive


The yard was filled with Rose-breasted Grosbeaks this past weekend. Here are two of the males

and here is a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the feeder with the smaller female Purple Finch


And lastly, our suet feeders were incredibly popular with the male woodpeckers this weekend- lots of Downies and Hairies, as well as Red-bellied (the first to check out the new larger suet feeder) and a Pileated who returned repeatedly over the weekend. Although I’ve seen two Pileated in our front trees, this was the first I’ve ever seen one visit a feeder. Since most of the frenzied activity was with the males, I’m hoping they were stopping by for some ‘fast food’ to bring home to the females and little ones! 😉




With love and blessings,



6 thoughts on “Vultures and visitors

  1. “I make life, which is prayer.”
    I love that line. And I promise to watch for vultures so I too can stop and see its beauty….
    As always, your photos take my breath away….
    Thank you.


  2. I am wondering if the pileated is a young bird. I recently took a walk down my street and two of them were flying down in front of me, stopping at trees and even clinging to the sides of people’s wooden mailbox poles! The fact that he came to your feeder seems very unusual to me. Such a fantastic shot. Enjoyed everything you shared! Thank you!


    1. Thank you Lisa. Since that picture was taken, we’ve had both a male and female visit the suet feeder regularly. This was a first for me as well. I was so surprised to see them at the feeder… they are eating 1-2 suet cakes per day! I’ll do some reading to see if I can determine the age


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