black vulture

7.31.21 ~ Harkness Memorial State Park
Waterford, Connecticut

The most exciting part of Saturday’s adventure was spotting a black vulture perched on top of the water tower at Harkness Memorial State Park. A new bird for me!

Black Vulture Caragyps atratus: Uncommon but increasing southern species. Rare and local breeder. Favors traprock and other ridges.
~ Frank Gallo
(Birding in Connecticut)


Since my Birding in Connecticut book has a life list I decided to mark and count up the birds I’ve seen and noted on my blog, plus the common birds I see here all the time. That makes this one #66. πŸ™‚

I checked my mother’s life list to see if/when she saw a black vulture and it was December 23, 1970. I bet we were in Florida for Christmas. πŸ˜‰ I called my sister and she used to see lots of them when she lived in New Mexico in the 1990s. I’m kind of astonished by all my bird sightings this summer. I never know what to expect when we go out.

18 thoughts on “black vulture”

    1. Thank you, Eliza! We are a bit north of black vulture range on some of the maps I’ve seen, and my field guide says they’re uncommon here. In my Connecticut birding group on Facebook people are posting hundreds of pictures of a roseate spoonbill hanging out on the shore near New Haven. It’s causing quite a stir! Talk about being way out of range!

  1. Woohoo, congratulations on adding a lifer, Barbara! It is fun in keeping track, I should know right? hehe Love seeing this vulture on a piling, a much better-looking perch than on the ground. And you know why that stick is on the piling… guess is an Osprey tried laying sticks on it to see if a nest would start. 😊

    1. Thank you, Donna! It IS fun keeping track, although I wonder if, now that I’m counting, I will stop seeing new birds. ~lol~ Either way, I’m following your lead. 😊 That does look like a piling but it is actually a tall water tower. You can see a picture of it, the first picture on this post:
      We do have a lot of osprey in the area, and a lot of those platforms people put out for them to build their nests on. No doubt your guess about that stick is correct. 😊

  2. You got such a great shot of “your” vulture. He looks as scary as depicted in horror stories. So different from the tiny “fairy” hummingbirds we have outside our bedroom window sipping sweet nectar.

    1. Thank you, Pam! My zoom lens was at the maximum. Imagine how scary a flock of black vultures might look… I’m so happy to hear your hummingbirds are still blessing you with their enchanting sweet presence. πŸ’™

  3. Well, he’s not the prettiest bird you could’ve spotted, but I’m glad you’re able to add him to your bird list. He’s a big one, that’s for sure!

    1. Hey, I’ll take whatever I can get! πŸ˜‰ Tim thought it was a crow at first but I thought it was way too big. And that featherless head is kind of creepy…

  4. As I am catching up in Reader, I just read the “tease” of your new bird in your lost post … never imagined a vulture! You got great shots of him and I especially like the beak open second shot. I have never seen a vulture, though we do have a lot of turkey vultures here in SE Michigan. The first time I saw one, it flew right overhead and I shot blindly, thinking “wow, my first eagle” but when I got home, I saw the red head and discovered it was a turkey vulture. They are large and graceful when cruising the skies.

    1. I’ve seen turkey vultures flying around here, too, but this was the first black vulture. Uncommon in Connecticut, according to my book. Tim saw this one flying to the top of the water tower and thought it was a crow. When he pointed it out to me I thought it was too large and started photographing it. It stayed there until we moved on so I never got a chance to see it fly. It’s a good thing Tim notices different birds. I would have missed that indigo bunting in June, too, if he hadn’t spotted it and called my attention to it.

      1. Your black vulture was off track maybe? We’re not that fancy here … just turkey vultures buzzing overhead. πŸ™‚ I need a helper like Tim to point things out. A few weeks ago there were many birds fleeing the pavilion area at Dingell Park. I saw nothing and then I saw as hawk overhead and then I knew why.

        1. It depends on which range map I look at — most of them say southern Connecticut is the northernmost part of the black vulture’s natural range. With climate change I imagine we will be seeing more of them as their range will likely expand north. Tim is the best helper! πŸ™‚ We “see” different things and seem to make a good team. I feel very lucky to have him. πŸ™‚

          1. You’re right Barbara. Climate change is bringing all kinds of unusual migrating behavior. We had a Roseate Spoonbill here in Michigan a few weeks ago and people were flocking to Ann Arbor to see it. That’s an oddity around here as it is considered a tropical bird. You do have a great helper with Tim, Barbara – you share many of the same interests.

          2. We had a roseate spoonbill in Connecticut recently, too!!! Lots of pictures (and excitement) posted in the Connecticut Birds Facebook group. New Haven, though, is an hour away from here so we didn’t even consider trying to go see it. To see them north of Florida is amazing and as far north and apart as Michigan and Connecticut, incredible. Wonder what happened to them?

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