Tuesday, March 7, 2017

They're Baaack!

Black Vulture eggs
For the 7th year in a row the black vultures have chosen to raise a family in our barn along Bull Creek.  Barb had seen them hanging around for several days and on Saturday I confirmed that they had laid two eggs in the barn stall.  We have had 11 birds fledge (one egg never hatched and it disappeared a month later),

A common question we get is  are these the same parents each year.  We can't be sure as they all look alike.  The male and female sexually monomorphic (look identical unless you see their sex organs) but fortunately they appear to tell the difference.
Warming in the sun
The one thing I am confident of is that they are the same family, whether the same parents or the young coming back to their birth place.  The first year they were skittish, flying out every time we approached the barn.  Over the years they got use to us, to the point that they frequently won't get off the eggs until we stand there with camera in hand and they finally get up for the photo-op so we will go away.  Last year I was able to walk withing 10 feet to get the picture of one as it warmed up in the sun.
Chicks in a hollow tree- 2013
Since 2013 we have had a pair of chicks raised every year in a hollow tree half a mile away in the forest.  The trunk is now paper thin and I was surprised to see it standing.  I will wait a few weeks to check it again but I suspect they will have found better quarters.