Sunday, February 12, 2012

Packs of vultures spotted in New England…

Visited family in Worcester today, they told us to bring binoculars because there have been lots of hawk sightings in the neighborhood. As soon as I saw the large black and white birds flying in groups, I knew these were no hawks. We’ve seen many hawks around our home near the Charles River Reservation and they always fly solo.

Photograph by Jason A. Sohigian (Feb. 12, 2012)

My initial impression was that these were buzzards, but we had never seen them before in this area. Got a few photographs and this video clip before looking up recent bird sightings in the area. Sure enough, Prof. Richard Quimby had a record of this group of birds on his web page. These were Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) which are also known as the Turkey Buzzard.

Here’s a Feb. 8 report from Brian Mulhearn: There were eight Turkey Vultures soaring over Chandler Street near Worcester State University at 3:15 this afternoon. And on Feb. 7 from Lynn Bromley: There were about two dozen Turkey Vultures in a pine grove near this intersection [Hadwen Road and Durant Way].

This was a related sighting on Feb. 8 from Rhode Island: A sense of impending doom hangs over a neighborhood in the northwest corner of Woonsocket as thick as the shroud of vultures that drapes the trees and rooftops late in the afternoon. Today there were approximately 100 Turkey Vultures in the roost, with a relatively small number of Black Vultures among them.

Not sure why we’re spotting these Turkey Vultures for the first time this winter, although New England is a part of their range so it’s not very unusual. It might be considered a bad omen, but don’t forget Forbes magazine recently named Worcester as “the second happiest U.S. city to work in,” so go figure.