Flapping his wings, Chris came gently gliding down upon the carcass. Having spotted it ten minutes before, he had taken great care not to attract attention. He knew it was only a matter of time before others showed up. That meant eating his fill quickly was of the utmost importance.
Upon touching down, he hopped a couple times, using the momentum to get himself closer. Once there, he flared his wings to stop himself completely. Down, he raised his stringy neck to glance about for possible challengers, be they vulture or other.
There were no others about.
Feeling smug, he sidled up to the dead beast. The animal was freshly dead, not having attracted much beyond a few flies. Putting a clawed foot upon the beast, he found it still warm. A thrill went through him.
Chris lowered his beak to take a quick peck, just to see if it tasted good. Before he could bite down, a shadow passed over head. This caused him to bounce back, fluffing his feathers in preparation for an attack.
He needn't have bothered.
Cocking his head to the side, his keen eyes tracked the trail of a drably colored vulture with four tail feathers missing. He knew that vulture, knew why those tail feathers were missing. Giving a chuffing sigh, he turned back to his carcass.
This time, he wasn't so dainty. Grabbing a beakful of flesh, he tore hardily through the still warm stomach. Jerking his head back, he came away with gobs of dripping guts. Bobbing his head, he quickly swallowed the first bit. No sooner than he had, the other vulture came crashing to the dirt ten wing flaps away.
Dust and leaf bits exploded upwards in a great cloud around the impact spot. Crying out in pain, the other vulture righted himself, then shook his head. Fluffing up his feathers, he shook the dust and debris from them.
Chris just ignored him. He knew the other vulture would soon be joining him. That meant the others wouldn't be far behind. It wasn't that he didn't like them, but he just wasn't the flock kinda bird.
He took another beak of the guts, not bothering to pull them free before he began swallowing. Pressing his beak further in, he snatched for the heart and liver. He found them after two more bites. Pulling them free of the carcass, he dragged them a hop away.
A quick look to the sky revealed five more silhouettes.
Just like clock work, like always.
Snorting, he shook his feathers clean. A quick hop back to the carcass, and he had time for three more bites before the second vulture suddenly appeared on the other side.
Flaring his wings, the second vulture shrieked a greeting.
Chris' head shot up. Glaring at the other vulture, he hissed.
The second vulture bobbed his head twice. Flaring his wings, he hopped on top of the carcass.
So what. Chris wasn't obligated to alert the others if he found something. It wasn't like he needed to, with at least one of them always trailing along. The others would always be along shortly after that, like some damned flock of swallows or something.
Taking another beakful of the insides, Chris swallowed it down. He turned his back to the carcass and bounced over to the heart and liver. Puffing up his feathers, he spread out his wings to make himself look bigger.
The message was clear to the second vulture. Chortling at him, the second vulture bobbed his head. He bent down and buried his beak in the carcass.
Looking to the sky, Chris found the other vultures gliding down to meet them. They would have to hurry, this many vultures landing would attract larger animals. Probably even a mountain lion or worse yet, an eagle. The thought of an eagle set his feathers on end.
A particularly light colored vulture landed two hops from him, but not near the carcass. Shaking the long feathers of its neck, he turned yellow raptor eyes upon Chris. The expression was bored, but inquisitive.
Raising one clawed foot, Chris uncovered the heart and liver. He backup a little, bobbing his head.
The other vulture flared his feathers. Bouncing towards Chris, he stopped half a hop away. He took the remaining space in a side-walk. Watching Chris, he lowered his head to the heart and bit in to it. Beak full of heart, he raised his head and swallowed.
Chris stared back, watching that lovely neck as the blobs of flesh went smoothly down his throat. Bobbing his head again, he fluffed up his chest feathers.
The long feathered vulture did the same. Cocking his head to the side, he eyed Chris. Watching Chris, he lowered his beak to the heart again, making sure to take his time eating it. As he swallowed down the last bits of flesh, he rubbed his beak along the ground.
This sent a shiver down Chris' feathery back. Chuffing at him, Chris started to hop towards him. His hop was thrown off course mid jump as a loud squawk to his right drew their attention.
On top of the carcass, two of the vultures were fighting over a piece of meat. The second vulture was teasing a smaller black one, holding a large chunk of intestines above it, out of reach. The smaller vulture nipped at the bigger one's gut, taking a few of the chest feathers.
Chris looked to the long feathered vulture in exasperation. There would be no tail thumping now. Feeling grumpy, he hopped back to the carcass. The big vulture had one too many tail feathers left!