Of Judges & Vultures

screenshot of judges’ wig sold through
Stanley Ley, Legal Outfitters, London
horsehair, handmade, about $2000

Coragyps atratus brasiliensis 
[or Cathartiformes] 
Black vulture in North America 
Zopilote negro in Costa Rica 
A small vulture with a wingspan of under 1.5m or 5 ft, it is often still classified with storks and looks like a stern judge, at least to me. Black vultures soar above our hills all day long, gliding in and out of the canyons around us. One of them needed a little rest this afternoon and settled on a branch of a guarumo behind my office. I heard this heavy duty flapflapflap like helicopter rotor blades coming to a stop. Turning my head toward the sound, I saw the tired vulture quietly sitting there. Coragyps don’t have a syrinx, so they can’t vocalize much beyond hissing. 
My late Kangal dog Otto had a very adversarial relationship with a pair of black vultures, which used to sit on the lowest branches of a large tree opposite our gate. They would hop up and down and croak, grunt and hiss, while he had barking conniptions behind the gate. Neither party would give in and leave, so I had to march down there and get my dog. Only then would they fly off. Stubborn critters. 

Slowly creeping to the dresser, I extracted my Lumix from a drawer, which fortunately already had the zoom lens mounted. Even though the first shots were impeded by greenery, I eventually managed a position with a clear view, which naturally allowed the bird a clear view of me as well and he decided, he didn’t like what he saw.






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