• Black Vulture

    Common NameBlack Vulture
    Scientific NameCoragyps atratus
    Type of ReportOut-of-Season
    Date of Observation12/19/2016
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    Number Observed1
    Reporting Observer's NameKenneth Cox
    Mailing Address28 North Puckerbrush Road
    South Reading, VERMONT 05153
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed09/29/2017
    Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers

    Don Clark

    Latitude of Observation0
    Longitude of Observation0
    Place NameRocky Ridge
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day11:45 AM
    Length of Time Observed10 minutes (approx.)
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)13,600 ft (2.6 mi)
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)300+/- ft
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Details were not recorded but conditions generally can be described as clear sky, sunny, air temperature around freezing.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Kowa 88 mm Prominar Scope with 20 - 60X eyepiece. Maximum power was used to observe bird at maximum distance.

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    Both observers are quite familiar with identification characteristics of Black and Turkey vultures.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Rocky Ridge located in Westminster, VT has a north - south alignment and is situated due west of Interstate 91. Ridge elevation is approximately 1,100 ft msl. Vegetation is predominantly forest.

    Behaviors Observed

    Observers were located at Boggy Meadows Farm off River Road South in Walpole, NH. Bird was first sighted flying south along ridgeline. Maximum observation distance even with aid of scope presented an identification challenge. Enough detail was seen (large all black bird with wings held at a slight dihedral) leading to an initial identification of Turkey Vulture; however, bouts of soaring were interrupted by brief series of quick, shallow (choppy) wing flaps. It became apparent that the bird was drifting toward us and with continued observation our initial identification was doubted and a Black Vulture became more likely.

    Description of Vocalizations


    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    As distance between observers and bird closed visual details came into view. Eventually the bird flew within close range and photos (attached) were taken.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Larger than Common Raven.


    Bird short necked with naked, all dark head.

    Feet & Bill

    Not noted.

    Upper Back

    Not clearly visible from observers' vantage point..

    Lower Back & Rump

    Not clearly visible from observers' vantage point.


    Wings were broad but not as elongated as those of Turkey Vulture. Outer primary feathers formed obvious "fingers" which were more or less of uniform length giving wings a squared-off (blunted) appearance. Wings were black except for decidedly white outer primaries.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    All black.


    Tail broad and short; no markings.

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Flight behavior, overall body shape, and white outer primaries eliminated Turkey Vulture.

    Other Notes & Comments

    Observation was made while conducting the Saxtons River CBC. Even though the observers were in NH , the bird when first spotted and for several minutes before flying crossing the Connecticut River (state line) was in VT. Sighting was initially submitted to eBird. Report is generated from that filing, analysis of photos taken, and memory. Photos include the two originals and respective blow ups.

    This report was written from notes taken:Written from Memory

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