“Don’t you think Black Vultures have soulful eyes?” Ken asked. We were leaning over a railing at Anhinga Pond in the Everglades, looking down at a bulky black bird. It was so close I could see his chestnut brown eyes, set in the deeply wrinkled charcoal gray skin of his head and neck. When he blinked, a bluish membrane came up from below. He did have nice eyes.
I apologize that the description that follows is unashamedly anthropomorphic.
A larger vulture swooped down and landed right beside the first, so close their sides were touching. At this, the first raised his wings out to his sides. He puffed his chest, stretched and curved his neck and looked coyly towards the ground. In this position, he slowly walked in a small semicircle.
“This must be a courtship display”, I said.
I wondered if I should get my little point and shoot camera. We were so close I could have filled the full frame. I didn’t, though. It seemed impolite.
Back facing the other bird, he jumped on her back. Their tail feathers ruffled and nestled together. The male gently pecked at the female’s neck. After ten seconds or so, he moved to stand on her shoulders, and stepped around a bit. Maybe he was giving her a back rub. He held his shoulders and head high. He seemed pleased with himself.
“Maybe those were not soulful eyes, “I said. “Maybe they were bedroom eyes.”