Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

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  Black Vultures on the BOS Waterfowl Count

Published: January 19, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoter

In spite of the building winds, Celeste Morien and I decided to continue with our plans to conduct the waterfowl count for Section C of the BOS area. This section includes waterfowl found from the base of the Falls down the Niagara River to Old Fort Niagara.

The river holds a lot of ice right now and we moved from place to place looking for unfrozen sections. Goat Island was off limits, closed due to the hazardous, icy conditions. Devil's Hole, The Power Vista, Joseph Davis State Park, and Old Fort Niagara, however, afforded us views of unfrozen river where we found only the expected ducks and geese. Shielding our eyes from the pelting ice crystals that the strong winds threw at our eyes, we carefully counted Long-tailed Ducks, Common Mergansers, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoters, Mallards, American Black Ducks, and Canada Geese.  Oh, I forgot - we DID see a Red-throated Loon, which was a nice surprise!  Although we weren't counting gulls, we did find a couple of Glaucous (a white winged gull), a Lesser Black-backed, and a few Great Black-backeds.

Since we were in the Lewiston area, we stopped at a well-known roost for Black Vultures and were lucky enough to find a few out on the rooftop warming themselves by the chimney. We had just laid eyes on some more along with some Turkey Vultures in the nearby pine trees when a Red-tailed Hawk swooped through, flushing all the vultures into a swirling mass of wings. It was pretty cool!

Once they settled back down, we studied the differences in wing structure and the various shades of red and dark, featherless heads.  Both species have no feathers on their heads, protecting them from diseases that could potentially be picked up from the dead animals they eat.

And did you know that Black Vultures hang with Turkey Vultures because of the keen sense of smell that the Turkey Vultures have? It's true; unlike other birds, Turkey Vultures can pick up the smell of carrion while the Black Vulture depends on its eyesight to locate food.

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Black Vultures - Celeste noticed the one in the foreground appears to have been pooped on!

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Black Vultures

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Flushed by a Red-tailed Hawk, all the vultures took to the sky!

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Jockeying for the prime spot on top of the chimney, this guy won out!

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Settling Down

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King of the Heap!

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Red-breasted Merganser (male)

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Red-breasted Merganser (female)

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A pair of Long-tailed Ducks

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The beautiful male Long-tailed Duck

Reply from: Gail Benedetti on 1/24/2014 9:09 AM
 Sue, I am recently retired RN and a brand new birder living in Gasport,NY. Found your blog a few months ago & just love it. Your pictures are so inspiring & informative! Please know it is so worthwhile to those of us just learning. And very impressive how you brave the rough winter we are having! Thanks again, Gail B.
Reply from: Sue on 1/27/2014 10:20 AM
 Thanks so much for the kind words, Gail; it means a lot! This year's rough winter hasn't been easy, but I'm glad I've forced myself to get out and enjoy it. There are so many things to see and learn about! Thanks for reading and for taking time to write!

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