Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lapalco vulture roost active; vulture id tips

A few days ago I visited the vulture roost at Lapalco x Segnette on the West Bank (p10 & 11 of Birding Made Easy).

There were 11 Blacks and 1 Turkey Vulture on the close tower, and 98 vultures (almost all Blacks) on the far tower.  It was 730 am, so none were flying yet- they like to use thermals created by heating of the ground surface, so are relatively late to take flight each day.

Black and Turkey Vultures appear superficially similar, but it doesn't take much experience to tell them confidently.  Anything with a red head is a Turkey, but a black head is inconclusive because young Turkeys have black heads.  But their heads are otherwise very different- Blacks have a grotesquely large, bulging, naked neck.  Turkeys usually have the neck invisible under a collar of feathers, and even their exposed naked head looks tiny.

In flight, Blacks have much shorter tails, and seldom teeter from side to side the way Turkeys do- with experience, they can be told at great distances.  Blacks have white coloration under their outer wings that is diagnostic in good views- but be careful, as it can be hard to see, and Turkeys have a silvery underside in many light conditions.


for a copy of Birding Made Easy-New Orleans, email me at birding.made.easy.new.orleans@gmail.com, or look for it at the Maple Street or Garden District Book Shops.

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