• Sandy Obodzinski

Black Vulture Family Update

Last month (was it last month or the one before - who can know anymore), I discovered two Black Vultures hovering on a daily basis near my old barn. Until now, the structure has served no purpose. It isn't weatherproof or secure enough for storage. And one end of the roof is nearly collapsed after a tree fell.


As it turns out, these are luxury accommodations for Black Vultures.


As I shared in a previous post, they don't build nests like the litany of songbirds working so industriously every day gathering moss, grass, and small twigs.


Just this week, I spotted a female Summer Tanager, her buttery feathers among the tall flowering weeds outside my home office. Her scarlet-colored mate with his striking black wings hovered high among the branches, seeming to supervise her work. After she gathered some dried grass and flew off to their nesting site, only then would he leave his perch and follow along behind her.

The last time I saw the Black Vulture eggs was May 5th. By May 20th, a small fluffy hatchling was visible through a slat in the barn wood.


When I ventured back to the barn to peak between the boards. I decided not to enter the stall next to their 'nest' and what a good decision that turned out to be! I looked through the boards on the opposite side of the barn, crossing my fingers that the parents wouldn't go all the way around to chase me off OR jump off the metal roof onto my head.


They didn't -- thank goodness!


But the parent inside the barn did NOT appreciate the glare of my flashlight or the uncertain threat near her baby. She scuffled along the floor and growled. Then with one rustling wing flap, she landed on the half-wall before hopping into the stall window.


She stood guard in the same stall door I would have entered to spy on them. I stayed completely silent and captured videos of both the hatchling and the parent.

During the last few days, the parents have been coming and going with more frequency. I've seen that pattern with the Bluebirds -- baby birds need a lot of food to grow.


After their hunts, each parent has taken to landing on the roof directly above my desk before flying to the barn fence. From there, they survey the surroundings, hop to the ground and sometimes stretch their wings before entering the barn.

Their flyover startled me at first. Now, I've come to appreciate the 'schedule' ... 9 am,

11 am (ish), then one or two shift changes in the afternoon. They tag-team hunting and hatchling care, as is typical of Vulture couples. They share all the work.


To say I'm captivated by these birds, their habits, the fluffy hatchling, and all the details of their daily life is an understatement. Yet, it's interesting to observe some reactions from friends and acquaintances. Grimaces, head-shaking, vivid adjectives...nothing too surprising at all. These are vultures. They look scary and eat dead things. I probably felt the same before I decided to be curious, to learn, and to get to know them.


Black Vultures are essential workers.


They contribute to the circle of life.


They model a true partnership raising and caring for their family.


They are not aggressive. They don't seek to harm.

But they will defend and protect the ones they love.


Let's not judge their value because of our own perceptions or fears.


Let's be curious.


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