A Vulture's Tale

In the early autumn of 1997, I received a most unusual request for a communication session. Debra P., Vice President of the Humane Society of Loudoun County, Virginia contacted me regarding her concern over the vultures that migrate to Leesburg, Virginia each year. It seems that each winter this very large flock of birds returns to the same area and roosts in pine trees bordering many homes. The homeowners were upset over the mess the vultures make and it had finally gotten to the point where the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been called in to relocate the birds.

Debra was extremely concerned about the harm that might come to the vultures during the relocation process and hoped that I could help convince the birds not to return to this area during the coming winter.

I advised Debra of what I tell all my clients who ask me to make behavioral changes in their animals. I can only suggest to the animal that they change their behavior. I can certainly strongly point out the pros and the cons of a particular behavior; however, I have no direct control over an animal. Just like a human, the animal has to make the choice to change their behavior. With this in mind, Debra still decided to go ahead.

I asked Debra to send me as many of the details as she could about the relocation. I wanted specific information on what would happen to the vultures if they returned to Leesburg. My strategy was to convince them of how dangerous it was to return and suggest they go somewhere else. Failing that, I wanted to tell them the details of what would happen, so they could be prepared for what they had to endure. My hope, and Debra’s, was that all the birds would remain safe, no matter what happened.

Information now in hand, I began to think about how to actually contact them. I thought I would attempt to contact their leader and appeal to him to take the flock to a safer location. My biggest concern was how I would make the connection with his thoughts. We were over 3,000 miles away from each other and although this doesn’t pose a problem for me with domesticated animals, contacting a wild vulture whose specific location I did not know was a whole different story.

I thought long and hard about this and planned my strategy. But my fears were quickly gone when I started the communication session. As soon as I tried to connect, their leader was there. He told me that his name is Crenshaw and his flock prefers to be called a tribe. Although he knew something about why I wanted to speak to him, he did not know the details. I then explained why the people did not want his tribe to live in Leesburg any longer.

Crenshaw told me that his tribe was very upset and angry over the situation. They knew that something was about to be done by the people and he felt this was not right. The land was as much theirs as it was human land. He wanted to live in harmony.

Crenshaw went on to tell me that the land belonged to his ancestors way before humans inhabited the area. He felt that the vultures were being very kind in letting humans share the land with them.

Crenshaw also told me that others see the vultures as evil or are scared by their looks. He wished that people could see into their hearts since they are very kind beings who have chosen the vulture body as a way to learn. He also told me that to not return to this land would be a difficult decision. They knew they might be killed, yet this is part of their tradition and the essence of who they are.

Crenshaw’s thoughts touched my heart. It was the first time I had heard a wild animal talk about animals and humans living together on the same land. But as much as I knew Crenshaw was right, the reality of the situation needed to press on.

I tried to appeal to Crenshaw’s logical side as their leader and pointed out that many in his tribe might die, even if the humans were very careful in the move. I suggested that it would be easier for them to move. He then told me how his tribe has been handed down a legacy that they would be a tribe to endure much pain. So to his thinking, perhaps this was their time to face this event. My counter to this was that perhaps he should have the wisdom to see that there were better choices for his tribe, so they could survive longer and continue their work on the earth.

After some additional discussion, Crenshaw closed by telling me that the elders would take my ideas under serious advisement. He wanted me to know that they appreciated those who care about them and are concerned for their well being. He wished there were more humans who cared this much for animals in this world. Crenshaw also wanted me to know that the people who care about animals are growing and that we are having an effect on others. He said to tell everyone who cares for animals that even when times look bad, we must not stop our animal work. We are making progress.

So what happened to the Leesburg vultures in the winter of 1997? They returned to their roosting site a month later than usual and in smaller numbers than usual. Then in December, 50 of the vultures sat on the U.S. Department of Agriculture traps and collapsed them. About a month later, Debra emailed me to say that only 10 birds had been captured and released into a new area. I think the elder’s of Crenshaw’s tribe made a good decision.

I truly thank Debra for giving me the opportunity to meet Crenshaw. His wisdom has changed my views forever. Please help me share Crenshaw’s message. Please help to continue caring for the animals.


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Success Stories - The Vultures of Leesburg, VA