Sky Burial

For about a month in the spring and fall, large numbers of turkey vultures migrate through this area.   They are the biggest bird one is likely to see around here. Adult wingspans vary between 5 and 6 feet.

While they are here, I frequently see groups of 20 – 25 circling, trying to catch an updraft, sometimes barely above the treetops, sometimes swooping within a few feet of our second story bedroom  window.  This morning a group of about 15 were perched near the tops our neighbor’s Norway Spruces, about 100 feet up, sunning their wings in the classic vulture pose.

In Tibet, the traditional funerary method is sky burial.  Preparation of the body can vary from none to elaborate.  In any case, at some point, it is left for the animals, mainly vultures to eat.

To be done properly, a sky burial requires an information and social infrastructure that just doesn’t exist here.  But for a month or so every six months the vultures are here, ready, just in case.

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