On the Fringe of Their Range

Black vultures in Florida, 2018 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

16 February 2023

Vultures used to abandon the Pittsburgh area in winter but as the climate heated up small groups of turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) began to stay through the coldest months. Then about two years ago black vultures (Coragyps atratus), which are rare here at any time of year, changed their winter habits one bird at a time.

This winter a single black vulture has been roosting with turkey vultures on a cell tower near Audubon of Western PA’s Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve. Every time someone reports him to eBird he pops up in a Rare Bird Alert.

Pennsylvania is the northern fringe of the black vulture’s winter range while the heartland is in Central and South America (see Jan-Feb eBird map below). In Ecuador I saw black vultures every day.

Black vulture sightings in Jan-Feb 2023 (screenshot from eBird)

If you want to see huge flocks of black vultures in winter, Florida is the place to be. They perch on buildings or stand around on dikes with their wings open.

Black vultures in Florida (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Sometimes they cause as much trouble as the keas (wild parrots) in New Zealand (video in 2019 below). Like our overabundance of winter crows, the overabundance of black vultures in Florida is a temporary winter problem.

video from WFTV on YouTube

Fifteen years ago Chuck Tague caught me mimicking the black vultures’ wing-open hopping gait.

Kate mimicking the black vulture dance, February 2007 (photo by Chuck Tague)

In this vintage article:

(photos from Wikimedia Commons and by Chuck Tague, video from WFTV on YouTube)

2 thoughts on “On the Fringe of Their Range

  1. Dear Kate, I noticed your mention of Chuck Tague in the Black vulture article. Is there any possible way you could direct me to the Dimsdale Chronicles that he wrote about as a part of his Will Trout’s Blog. I have searched high and low for several years now with no success. Thank you so much for any possible help and of course thank you for the wonderful daily blog. Geo Cametti, Beaver.

    1. Geo, Chuck’s wife Joan Tague may be able to help you. (To prevent spam I will type the special character.) She’s at:
      babyowl -at- mac.com

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