2020 – Florida, Snowbirds?

vulture 1Florida isn’t just for Snowbirds as we learned this morning.

So two Snowbirds were out for their morning constitutional. The temperature already hitting the low 80’s. Even for Florida in mid-February this was unexpected and record breaking. The humidity was also very high, adding to the discomfort of the walk. But one marshalls on as these morning jaunts are intended to somewhat offset the previous night’s indulgences. After all, we may have migrated to Florida for a spell, but we didn’t swear to avoid the single malted.

Sweaty, heated and grumpier than usual, we glanced at our walking mate and she looks fresh as a daisy, no sweat, no perspiration, cool and capped with a fashionable white hat. There’s just no justice for the sinner!

Our area of Englewood, Florida is an urban conglomeration of single story dwellings with broad tropical grass covered yards out front or along side the homes. Most houses have a side port rather than an enclosed garage. Some have huge covered car ports but not parking cars in them. Instead, they hold 25 ft or longer RV’s, monstrous vehicles which likely require special licenses to drive. License obtained after years of apprenticeship and driving school instruction and practice. Mind you, I have followed some of them and was really surprised at how well they are driven…even more surprising, driven by an comparably aged peer. Amazing.

But we digress…back to the walk.

Each morning my wife and I do what we call Publix run as our morning jaunt. Publix is Florida’s version of the Loblaw’s or Metro’s back in Canada. Their level of quality varies, sometimes really comparable to Loblaw’s or Sobey’s, sometimes Freshco or No Frills. In any case, our local Publix is 5,000 steps away, round trip. Kind of reduces my guilt over the upcoming classic breakfast of a fried egg dabbed with salsa, and accompanied by 2 bacon strips and a piece of dry toast. The large glass of “Simply Orange” juice lies to me, “authentic Florida orange juice.” Yeah, sure. The huge mug of cafe latte rounds out the brekkie to perfection.

As you might guess, we look forward to the morning walks with great anticipation, particularly their culmination.

Oh, the walk, thanks for reminding me.

So we turn a corner a few blocks into the walk, and we see birds circling above, slow, methodical circles like the ones you see vultures doing in western movies of old. Lo and behold, that’s what these birds were, vultures, turkey vultures to be exact.

Sitting on the roof of the neighbourhood home, a pair of them. In the tree behind the house, a whole flock, and on the front lawn 4 or 5 ravaging some animal’s carcass.

We approached cautiously just to identify the poor victim. It was an oppossum, the gentle, near-sighted little fur ball we has seen at the music festival a few days earlier. 

A side note: vultures should not be labelled as cruel, ruthless killers who bear down on small rodents, oppossum and such. No they do not normally kill their victims. They hone in on an already killed one. In our case, the oppossum was likely road kill. The streets here in Englewood are poorly lit as street lamps few and sparsely numbered. This means that the victim was likely hit by a car during the night. No way to know for certain. The medical examiner was likely still in bed.

OK, so victim identified, oppossum; murder weapon, likely a car. Birds of prey, turkey vultures.

A bit of a disconcerting sight on a mid-morning walk, but interesting to see. Nature at work in the middle of an urbanized area.

The Publix walk was more interesting than usual this morning.



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