On any given day, we are host to Turkey Buzzards, roosting on the electric towers at the back of the property.
They return to their nightly roosting spot, every evening, around 4pm and by nightfall, you can hear them chattering away, exchanging stories of their days hunting escapades.
We have lived in this harmonious ritual for almost two decades.
By 9pm they are silent.....
A few days ago, I noticed several of these birds, swooping down from the tower, and hanging around on the ground, some scavenging, others playing and aggravating the other members of the flock. I thought it strange, since normally, the buzzards, were already off on their day's foraging.
I watched them again this morning, and noticed through the lens of the binoculars, they had grey/black heads, not the red head of the traditional "turkey buzzard", and when they were in flight, the underside tips of their wings were white.
After spending a short amount of time investigating on the Web, I was shocked to learn these were Black Vultures, often known as Mexican Vultures, (Coragyps atratus), a recent immigrant, and unlike the familiar turkey vultures, which are mainly scavengers, the black vultures are known to destroy property and prey upon live animals, particularly newborn calves, goats and lambs, a real problem, since there is a large sheep/goat/farm just beyond the immediate pasture.
They are a protected species, according to the USDA Wildlife Service, a federal permit is required to legally kill one, although scarecrows and other methods are used to limit damage.
Wildlife Services officials , are urging farmers and homeowners who spot black vultures, to call the main wildlife services offices in their local area.
Interesting facts: Black Vultures/Buzzards are a bit smaller and less colorful that the Turkey Vulture. They tend to follow the Turkey Vulture because it has a keener sense of smell and can find it's meal through use of that sense. They eat dead animals and occasionally capture small live animals (field mice, etc.).
I have a call in to my regional TWRA office, to speak with the area authority on endangered species.....I'll fill you in, on what was said.
Photo Credits : Peter S. Weber.