You might think it strange to claim the vulture as a favorite bird. But I’ve always loved to watch them in flight, gracefully riding the updrafts. Contrary to popular myth, they don’t hang around waiting for their prey to die, but feast only on ready-made carrion.
While this may seem morbid (not to mention unappetizing), think about it for a moment. The vulture provides a critical service by effectively disposing of remains that would otherwise pose a health risk to the population of the living.
For a bird of prey, the vulture is amazingly gentle. It has no need to be violent or predatory. In fact, you might say it lives a perfect, Zen-like existence. Not many things want to eat a vulture, yet its food is freely offered by every creature that walks the crust of the Earth.
Spiritual meaning of vultures
Many years ago I was privileged to spend three months working and living in Costa Rica. Of course I visited the museums in the capital, San Jose. While there I noticed many images of vultures. I learned that the native Central Americans believed that the vulture was responsible for carrying the souls of the departed up to heaven.
This painting was influenced by that belief, and to honor the natural cycle of life and death – each of which is truly just the other side of the other.