Sunday, March 4, 2012

Black Vulture Romance (Warning: PG-13 pictures ahead!)

OK, some creatures are definitely starting to get into spring-time mode around here!

I woke up this morning to find a handful of Black Vultures -- the less common of Connecticut's two vulture species -- lined up along the roof of one of the houses across the street from our apartment. (Or, more accurately, Paul woke me up, saying, "hey, there's a bunch of really big black birds out here that you might want to see!" I'm training him well.)

First of all, it was strange to see so many Black Vultures here at once (one or two is normal, seven is quite a lot), and I don't think I've seen them perched before -- they're usually wheeling high overhead. So I got my camera to document the unusual gathering, and then it quickly became clear that something even more unusual was going on. For two of the vultures, at least, love was in the air.

(I really feel like I should apologize to the vultures for posting pictures of such a private moment. But really, if they didn't want to be seen, they should've picked a spot a little more secluded than the top of a chimney for their rendezvous!)

The male vulture was clearly doing his best to impress:

He looked quite handsome from here, but I'm not a female vulture, so I don't think I'm really qualified to judge:

The female vulture did seem amenable to his advances, though, and some snuggling ensued (I actually think this is pretty adorable):

The actual mating only took a moment...

And that was it!

Will there be baby vultures soon? Maybe!

So now that Black Vultures have been hanging around in the area and mating, I wonder if they'll stick around to build a nest! The idea is especially interesting considering that Black Vultures weren't documented as nesting in Connecticut until as recently as 2002 -- this is a species whose range has traditionally ended further to the south, but which has been gradually expanding northwards over the years. I have no idea whether I'll see these individuals around here again (and I probably wouldn't recognize them if I did), but it's nice to think they might stay and maybe even raise a family. I quite like these big birds -- and what a thing to be happening practically in my own back yard!

Incidentally, there were tons of other birds around the yard this morning, too -- way more than I've seen at one time in months! A flock of 30+ Cedar Waxwings combed through the trees, plus four species of woodpecker, not to mention noisy flocks of juncos, starlings, and sparrows, and about 20 of these guys hopping across the yard, poking their beaks into the now-soft ground:

Robins are around all winter, but when they start foraging in yards, I'm pretty sure that's a good sign that spring really is on its way!


  1. Wow! And you had a front-row seat!

  2. Really very nice - your final shot was impressive - we were at the SG tower around sunset last year, and spooked 8 or 9 of them roosting in the trees. They were BIG and, at that time of day, a little disconcerting - they certainly let us know how displeased they were at being disturbed.

  3. Thanks for the comments! It was great seeing these huge birds so close.