About 40 miles away from home last week, I was stopped at a traffic light near a gravel quarry. I like to scan the skies near quarries and see what's happening - birdwise.
Turkey vultures were soaring everywhere - as usual - but my eye lit on one in particular. Lo and behold - my first black vulture in Pennsylvania! I've seen them in North Carolina, Maryland and West Virginia, but not in my home state. Of course, I thought of Lynne right away. How jealous will she be that I was watching a dozen TVs and a BV right outside my car window?
I never understood the appeal of vultures, but they do look majestic - soaring and gliding effortlessly. Well, it got added to the PA list as soon as I got home. With no effort, just looking out a window, you never know what you will find. I guess one birder's "trash bird" is another birder's "treasure bird".
How to tell a black from a turkey vulture? The BVs have silver on wing tips only, while the TVs have silver extending from wingtip to the body. The BVs are smaller with stubbier tails. Seeing a BV flying with TVs made the size difference apparent. Up close, the BV has a black or grayish featherless head (ewwwww!), while the TV has a red featherless head (ewwwww!). Both eat carrion (the TVs exclusively, while the BVs are not as picky) and are necessary to keeping the natural order - acting as vacuum cleaners.