We’ve noticed some odd-looking entities circling around the skies above Socorro the last few weeks. No, I’m not referring to the UFOs New Mexico is so famous for, but rather the return of the vultures to the treetops of New Mexico Tech. As surely the buzzards return to Hinckley, Ohio where they have a big Buzzard Day celebration every spring, so it is with the vultures of Socorro, and if you’ve looked up recently you may have seen them swooping down from on high to keep our streets and property free of carrion.

According to the Buzzard Tweetapedia, many vultures are erroneously called buzzards, since both buzzards and vultures use dynamic gliding to circle thermals to conserve energy. They both do this to seek prey, and while buzzards do so to spot living prey, vultures do so to spot dead prey. And I say more power to them.

And yes, there is such a thing as a Buzzard Tweetapedia.

I’ve got to admit I’m getting pretty app and internet savvy, so pardon me if I get distracted by my new cell phone…um…smartphone, although I think it’s more of a smart-aleck phone. It talks to me. While driving even.

Remember when you got your first cell phone? I didn’t bother to jump on the smartphone wagon until sometime around aught-three, but I still consider a real phone is the one on the kitchen wall, connected to a wire that runs out of the house and onto a pole and back to the phone company.

Anyhow, these days you can travel from Tierra del Fuego to the top of Old Smokey and it’s still hard to get away from Face-Google-Book or cell phone calls.

But when it comes to the internet, all I can say is hello, George Orwell. We’re certainly in a Star Trek world now, what with those crazy algorithms controlling cyberspace – which seem to read our thoughts better than Mr. Spock’s Vulcan mind-meld. Nothing was secret from Mr. Spock.

Sunday, by the way, is the anniversary of the filing of the Socorro police report where a yet-to-be-determined thing was spotted in the arroyo next to Raychester Road. It was on April 24, 1964, that Sgt. Lonnie Zamora reported seeing something that he at first thought was an accident scene. What he took to be an overturned automobile turned out to be something wholly other that lifted off the ground in a roar of blue flame and whooshed out toward Box Canyon and Six Mile Hill.

Socorro being Socorro – mitote and all – word spread around town and it wasn’t long before people started talking about a UFO, something Sgt. Zamora never mentioned in his police report, which detailed only what he observed.

That was way before the Roswell hullabaloo sprang up in the late 1970s, but even when I was little in the fifties talk of flying saucers was all over the news, not to mention scads of black-and-white movies; everything from Earth Versus the Flying Saucers to The Day the Earth Stood Still to Invaders from Mars.

Even the Top 40 got in on the fad with cowboy actor Sheb Wooley singing, “Well, I saw the thing comin’ out of the sky. It had the one long horn, one big eye. I commenced to shakin’ and I said ooh-eee, it looks like a purple eater to me.” Hey, it was a big deal to me back then. When I was 7.

I don’t think in my lifetime there’ll ever be a close encounter of the Steven Spielberg kind, but just in case, I’ve been working on my mixtape to greet the aliens with.

There was a song put out by the Carpenters – if you remember the Carpenters raise your old wrinkled hand – titled Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, which entreated aliens to come on down. Then there’s Creedence Clearwater Revival singing It Came Out of the Sky, The Byrds’ Mr. Spaceman, David Bowie’s Starman, and Elton John’s I’ve Seen the Saucers. One of my guilty favorites is Dan Hicks’ irreverent Hell, I’d Go.

Anyway, as for Socorro’s entry in the MUFON files, dozens of explanations have been offered, from a homemade hot air balloon to a practical joke pulled off by New Mexico Tech engineering students. Tech’s Dave Thomas, it was connected to a test of NASA’s Lunar Surveyor at White Sands that went way off course. Whatever it was, you’ve got to give Lonnie some credit for writing a by-the-book police report.

In the meantime, like the newspaperman urges at the close of the 1951 movie The Thing from Another World, “Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!”

You’re likely to see vultures looking for roadkill, methinks.