Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We Have New Neighbors. (Uninvited)

There goes the neighborhood.....

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.












Credits: Wikipedia encyclopedia,
Photo Credits : Peter S. Weber.

14 comments:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh Josephine.... We have alot of birds and critters here in Fairfield Glade.. Don't know if we have these Black Vultures or not. I hope we DON'T...

Congrats though for figuring out what they are... I would have said Turkey Vultures. Shows what I know (or don't know).

Hugs,
Betsy

Jill of All Trades said...

Very interesting. We have turkey vultures at our lake place, lot's of them.

Dave said...

Hello - This is my second visit to your Blog. I love your pictures. Are the snow pics taken in England? ALso, a few of them look familiar - are they from Northamptonshire? They look like a village I used to live in.

Shame about the vulture. I had a hawk that used to visit my area a few years ago and almost got one of my cats. Luckily I was there and scared it off. I think I'd shoot the vulture ragrdless of the USDA!

donna baker said...

Firecrackers will send them on their way.

Winifred said...

Good grief, makes a change from having fairies at the bottom of the garden!

Janet said...

I have only seen those black vultures around here once. It was back in December, and they were tucking into the remains of some dead animal in our yard. They didn't hang around though, probably because we have an eagle that lives around here too.

A Brit in Tennessee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Brit in Tennessee said...

Well, today the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency phoned me back , and said as far as they're concerned, unless they are roosting on my roof, or endangering livestock, I should leave them be....
Also the USDA is the agency who keeps up with the migration patterns, so I have to call them tomorrow.
Thanks for all the suggestions, I suppose they will continue roosting on the towers, at least for the present time.

LadyFi said...

Black vultures - how amazing! Enjoy them while you can!

Carla said...

So far, I think the only vultures I've seen here are the Turkey Vultures. I like them because I now know that they are a benefit to the environment and they don't hunt live animals. Don't know if we have Black Vultures in the Glade. I bet we do. And I didn't realize they are more agressive than the larger Turkey Vultures.

TheWritersPorch said...

Josephine.......we have those here and I call them Mid-evil turkeys because they look like Turkey's wearing armour! HA!
xoxo,
Carol

Star said...

These birds look fearsome, don't they. Nothing like that in England! You asked, I reply; I live in Knoxville. I'm currently in London, returning to Knoxville on 31st March.
Blessings, Star

david mcmahon said...

Great close-up shot. Bravo.

purpledogstar said...

I saw some of these ugly birds when I visited the space centre in florida recently.