Listening Vultures

April 9, 2008

We moved to Georgia last summer, and one thing I noticed right away was the beautiful birds that soared in the sky, catching updrafts of wind and floating, rarely flapping their wings. Must be a raptor of some sort, hawks or eagles, I thought. Maybe even condors! 

Beautiful, I thought. Simply beautiful.

That is . . . until I saw what they did during the other part of their lives, when they weren’t flying. These were no hawks or eagles or condors. Instead, they were turkey vultures. Ick!

Today, while driving down a back road, my kids and I came across about thirty-five turkey vultures on the side of the road. I slowed the car so the kids could see. The birds stayed right where they were, almost frozen into place, until I got out of my car to snap a photo. Then they flew up and roosted in some tall trees.

Listening Buzzards

This got me thinking . . . I think I’ve met a few “listening vultures” in my life. You’ve met them, too. They’re the ones who hang out in the hallways or at the fringes of a party, eavesdropping on people’s discussions. But as soon as anyone tries to draw them into the conversations, off they fly (metaphorically speaking). They don’t often go far. They’ll circle around until they think no one is noticing them, then they land so they can go about their business.

At their best, listening vultures are simply shy. At their worst, listening vultures feed off the words of others, then fly off to spread their disease with unsuspecting other people, gossiping about what they heard (or thought they heard).

So what can we do about the listening vultures that we meet? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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