Saturday, June 18, 2011

Baby Black Vulture

Back in April, I noticed a black vulture family seemed to be nesting on our property.  And now it's confirmed!  We have a Black Vulture couple raising a single baby in an old building on our property.  I love vultures because they help us clean up the property.  They are always flying overhead, scanning for food, and they sun themselves by sitting with their wings open.  They don't bother the guineas at all.  They're not noisy, and they don't seem to socialize with owls or other bad birds that may kill my flock, so I'm cool with them.  Black vultures are good birds.

From Wikipedia:  The Black Vulture inhabits relatively open areas which provide scattered forests or shrublands. With a wingspan of 1.5 m (5 ft) the Black Vulture is a large bird though relatively small for a vulture. It has black plumage, a featherless, grayish-black head and neck, and a short, hooked beak.  it's a scavenger and feeds on carrion.  It finds its meals either by using its keen eyesight or by following other vultures, which possess a keen sense of smell. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses.  It lays its eggs in caves or hollow trees or on the bare ground, and generally raises two chicks each year, which it feeds by regurgitation.

These are not my vulture babies! For reference only!

This first picture was downloaded off the web and shows what the babies are supposed to look like.  It shows a pair of babies.  For some reason, our vultures only have one baby.

The photos of my baby vulture were taken with a cell phone camera, so they're not the best pictures!  We weren't prepared to take photos, but were in the area where we knew the vultures lived, and then we found a baby!  The baby is in an old fallen down house beside the old barn on our property.  There's a big piece of tin roofing leaning up against the wall, and the baby is tucked up behind the tin.  The first time we saw the baby he was tiny and puffy and very fragile-looking!  The parents stayed close-by and were not happy with us looking at their baby.

Baby Black Vulture

About 2 weeks later we went and visited the baby again.  He had gotten bigger, although he's still a white puff-ball.  One of the parents stayed with him when we first got there.

Baby Black Vulture

Then, to our horror, the parent vulture threw up!  Boy, did it smell!!!

Parent vulture throwing up!

Shortly after barfing, the parent flew up directly overhead us the the baby and kept watch from up there!  I guess she didn't like the smell of her vomit, either!  The smell was just too bad and we quickly left the area before we vomited, too!

After I returned home, I researched why vultures vomit.  I read that if they are scared, they will vomit to make their bodies lighter for quick flight.  I also read that vultures vomit toward a perceived threat and the foul smelling vomit deters most predators, as it did me! 

I'll keep an eye on the little vulture baby growing up on Razzberry Corner and will bring my camera to get better photos to share next time!

Have a Nice Weekend!


CeeCee said...

Hooray! I'm so glad you get to witness this. Vultures are such strange creatures, but SO necessary.
Just to further your knowledge (and ick factor), that momma threw up her lunch because she was feeding her baby. Yes, just like pigeons and sea birds, the babies get predigested food. I know, Ewwww!

cmarlow41 said...

I love that we have such a variety of interesting birds in this area. I have a great photo of 6 vultures roosting in the oak tree by the house. It was rather eerie at first, but to see them sunning themselves with their wings outspread is really cool.

Nancy said...

So very cool! Thanks for teaching me something new about those birds.

Gail said...

You got some amazing pictures here! Was he not feeding the baby?

Shim Farm said...

That is too cool - puke and all! We have vultures flying overhead all the time, but no nesting pairs. Hope the little guy makes it.

Genny said...

That's amazing! I knew they would vomit on you if you agitate them. How weird that they don't build a nest. I can't wait to see more pictures of the baby. The eagle nest I've been watching on line in Decorah, Iowa has three babies that are ready to fledge and leave the nest. Nature is so amazing!

Razzberry Corner said...

CeeCee - I am glad I get to experience this, even though it's bizarre how the parents throw up to feed the babies. I didn't think that was food because it smelled so foul. I thought that was digested food and she must have thrown up because she was scared. But, maybe it was food for the baby. Yum! (not so much!!) And that makes it even more special that I got to see the mama feeding that little baby. That's pretty cool!

Cindy - I love all your hummingbirds! I was looking at them yesterday. They were fighting, it was amazing!

Nancy - You and me both are learning new things!!!

Gail - I guess so!! Poor baby gets some pretty yucky food!!

Shim Farm - We have several old houses on the property where the vultures live. I guess they want their own house, especially since they don't bother building any kind of nest.

Genny- The only tough thing about me getting more pictures of the baby is that the grass/weeds have grown so very tall around the old half-fallen down house where the baby lives. The weeds are over my head, and now a bunch of blackberry bushes have grown around the house, too! Last time I got these pictures I got scratched up and covered in ticks! Where do ticks even come from??? So it makes it an adventure to go see the baby vulture.


Knatolee said...

Lynn, your photos are FANTASTIC!!! THis is so cool, and how lucky are you to get to watch baby vultures. Wow!

Country Girl said...

Very interesting. Great pictures! We have a lot of vultures around here. Black ones and the regular turkey vultures.

Genny said...

Lynn, just.the THOUGHT of ticks would be enough to make me stay away!!

Robin said...

Wow that is really neat.