Friday, January 14, 2011

Sky Watch Friday - Black Vultures

Landa Park
New Braunfels, TX

Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) soar through the skies
above the Comal River as it flows quietly through Landa Park.

Roosting on a small island right smack dab in the middle of the river,

the vultures share their space with cormorants,

various waterfowl, and turtles. 
There were also geese and Wood Ducks nestled in
amongst the roots of the trees at the water's edge.

The Black Vulture is a very large bird of prey,
measuring approximately 25 inches in length, with a 5 foot wingspan. Its plumage is mainly glossy black. The head and neck are featherless and the skin is dark gray and wrinkled. 
Since they feed primarily on carrion,
the absence of feathers about the head and face help to keep it clean.

They have short, broad wings that show a white patch
on the underside of the wing's edge during flight.
This is one sure way to tell the difference from the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura ), who show silver-grey beneath the flight feathers along the entire length of the underwing.  Up close and personal, it is easy to tell the difference between the two because the Turkey Vulture has a bare and wrinkled red head.

Turkey Vulture

The Black Vulture doesn't have as
wide-spread a range
as the Turkey Vulture,
which we are now seeing
in the skies as far north
as Nova Scotia.  But it is a
year round resident within
all of it's range.



Kathiesbirds said...

Nice shots and great info. I haven't seen either species for a couple of months now but I know they will return in the spring.

Linda Reeder said...

Great photos. what a wonderful place to watch wildlife!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I love my Turkey Vultures!

Dixxe said...

What would we do without them? These birds are quite gentle too...I worked for a rehabber at one time and we had 4 young vultures that had ingested poison they had been brought into the zoo and medically cleared so our job was to rehab and release. They wouldnt Eat the frozen lab rats we fed the other birds of prey..we tried various foods for them and they love--TA DAH..hamburger that says something about ground beef right? They were always curious and they hissed a bit but never showed signs of aggression I grew to really enjoy working with them. After about 3 months in the flight cage they were released back into the wilds!

Carver said...

Great sequence of shots with the vultures and interesting information. Happy weekend.

swamp4me said...

Black vultures always look like they are hunching their shoulders when they fly.

eileeninmd said...

Great shots and info. Not sure why but, I have always liked the Black Vultures better than the Turkey Vultures.

Regina said...

Beautiful nature!
Great captures.
Happy weekend.

Marvin said...

Great shots of the Black Vultures. We have mostly Turkey Vultures, but will see a Black every once and a while.

walk2write said...

I enjoy them as long as they keep their distance! There's a festival every year in Makanda, Illinois, that's dedicated to the vulture (not sure which variety). It's a small community comprised primarily of artists. We happened to be driving through one year as the festival was beginning, and the folks on the outskirts of town were enticing the vultures to visit with several deer carcasses. Lovely!

Diane AZ said...

Lovely images of the Black Vulture, a bird I had not seen before. Have a great weekend!

magiceye said...

brilliant captures!

Sarah Knight said...

Lovely shots!

NatureFootstep said...

a bird I hope to see soon. :)

Carrie P. said...

I know I have seen vultures around here but not sure if they are Black. I went to hear the sound of the nestlings and it creepy. My daughter said it sounded like Darth Vader. lol

Kit said...

I've always admired the Turkey Vultures in flight. They are some of the most graceful of birds, so different in the sky than their appearance would lead one to believe.

Rambling Woods said...

Love seeing the birds..I have a flock of mallards coming at dusk for cracked corn...who knows where they find some open water this time of year....It's only 4 degrees tonight.. brrrr.....Michelle

Audrey said...

Those are amazing!! Love the bird against the clouds! You obviously have a much better camera than I do :)

Johnny Nutcase said...

nice shots! i like that first one a lot..and i'm loving those trees!

Living In Williamsburg Virginia said...

Great shots. We have black and turkey vultures here. They are very big and seem to be everywhere.

Darryl and Ruth : )

Kyle said...

Great post, Karen. I see Black Vultures year round down here in the Houston area, although not nearly so many Turkey Vultures during the colder months. You got some good flight identification shots, too. I love that the Turkey Vultures have that black "T" thing going on the underwings, makes it so easy to spot the difference when they are soaring overhead.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Karen: Enjoyed your Black Vulture info. I saw them in Florida. I love to see the Turkey Vultures flying in the three Spring,Summer and Fall skies.

Leora said...

What a great assortment of the black vultures. Thank you for all the information, too.