Turkey Vultures are a common three season sight in Maine and in the summer there always seems to one or two patrolling the skies. They are one of the first migrating birds to return each spring (actually late winter) and one of the last to leave as the weather gets cold. This past winter we even had one winter over near our house in Wiscasset.
But it wasn’t always that way. Between 1862 and 1944 there were only twelve reported sightings of Turkey Vultures in the state. Fifty years ago (when I was a youth) they were still rare.
Their close cousin, the Black Vulture is a year round resident from New Jersey south to Florida and west to Texas but is as rare in Maine as the Turkey Vulture was a hundred years ago.
Ingrid and I have gotten into a habit of glancing at every vulture we see . . . hoping to see white tips on the wings and a gray head . . . the tell-tale sign of a Black Vulture.
Today, I was up early (along with a number of other birders), prowling the pine trees and communication towers of Windham . . . looking for the Black Vulture that had been seen yesterday at sunset.
We found two, and they appeared to be rubbing bills . . . could this be the first breeding Black Vultures in Maine?
The Black Vulture is Maine Big Year Bird # 144.