Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Unveils Winter's Roadkill

Today I saw my first buzzard of the season—and I’ve been watching for them. This buzzard has arrived later than the robins, blackbirds, grackles, killdeer, and sandhill cranes. Possibly the buzzards have been detained because they had to work their way up by first cleaning up the roadkill in Indiana and Ohio. At least there is no excuse for any buzzard or coyote to starve in Michigan. Roadkill is one thing you notice while walking, and it’s especially noticeable when you first get out in Spring, once the ice gets off the roads so you can walk. Not only have you previously been prevented from getting out, but a lot of carcasses had previously been covered by snow—though they are well preserved due to being frozen. Out here in farm country, there is at least one dead deer for every mile of road frontage, (and sometimes more).

Every carcass marks not just the end of the trail for some poor animal, but also the end of its story. Sometimes you wonder about the story’s end. A very short walk from here, in a tree just a few feet from the road, is a narrow crevice about three feet up from the ground. Hanging out of that very tight crevice are the tail and hind legs of a dead raccoon, and I wonder, did the raccoon get stuck climbing into that crevice to explore it and die there, or did he maybe get hit by a car, crawl to the side and try to climb into the tree crevice for safety, and then expire there? Because I see it every time I walk that way, I can’t help but wonder what happened there.

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