Monday, September 7, 2020

One Sad, Lonely Vulture

We were sitting on the front porch early this morning enjoying the clear, cool (less than sweltering) morning breeze when suddenly, there was a thunderous explosion close to us.  We looked toward the sound and saw flying feathers as a large vulture crash-landed below our front yard power pole. We waited but there was no movement.

I walked out to check on it and discovered a fried bird missing half his feathers.  (Good taste and decorum prevented me from sharing a close-up of the morbid image of the deceased.)

This is the top of the power pole.  I saw nothing amiss which doesn't mean anything since I don't know what it is supposed to look like.  The power inside our house worked even though most of the clocks needed to be reset.

Being curious (nosey), I hired (cooked a meal) an Electrical Engineer (Dustin) to discover what happened.  The unsuspecting vulture probably landed on top of the pole.  One large wing touched the high voltage line on one side as the second wing touched the ground wire on the other side. Together, they created an electrical circuit loop which shot 12,000 volts through him. Ouch!

This is what Dustin really said,  "A relatively conductive body need not touch the electrical source, it just has to reduce the amount of insulating air between the high voltage source and ground, which can cause an arc through the aforementioned body, resulting in a bright flash of light and the thunderclap we heard. The immense amount of electrical current that flowed through the vulture heated its insides at such a rapid pace the flesh flew off more or less explosively."

The sad part was its mate who was perched atop a closeby tree.  It waited patiently for hours for its friend to move. Was it confused, mourning, or lonely? I felt sorry for it.

Eventually, it flew away.  

Or maybe it wasn't sad at all but left to invite new friends to a feast of sun marinated, roasted carcass.  Nature is hard to understand sometimes.

Additional Vulture Posts


  1. Of course this was a sudden scare when you were peacefully sitting on your porch.
    We do not have these sorts of birds here. And, as far as I can remember, I have not seen
    such power poles here.

    1. It was a very loud explosion and something we have never seen happen before. Immediately I thought our neighbor had shot the bird with a cannon because it didn't sound like a gun. It was the same sound as lightning and not pleasant to hear so close by. Of course, our neighbors wouldn't shoot a bird in our yard nor would they shoot toward our house but I was confused for a moment.

      Dustin explained what all the parts are on the pole and how they work but I am unable to repeat it. I just know the lights come on in the house when I flip the switch. That is what matters to me.

  2. What an experience! I like to think the remaining bird was sad....Thanks for the photo with the explanation, I really appreciated knowing exactly what happened.

    Feel free to share at My Corner of the World

  3. Remarkable - have to feel sorry for the vulture. We have similar events here - but caused by possums on the powerlines. It never ends well for these small marsupials!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  4. Sad, but at least it was quick.
    Have a good day!

    1. I wonder if it felt anything or if it was too quick. I guess no one lives to tell.