[CT Birds] Black Vultures on Connecticut Christmas Bird Counts

Linda & Steve Broker ls.broker at cox.net
Mon Dec 21 09:47:01 EST 2009


 From Steve Broker, Cheshire:

Part II. Black Vultures Recorded on Connecticut Christmas Bird Counts

While Turkey Vultures were rare in early winter Connecticut prior to  
the 1975-1976 Christmas Bird Count, Black Vultures did not make an  
appearance on a Connecticut CBC until 1989-90, when one was found at  
Woodbury-Roxbury.  Since then, the species has been recorded on  
thirteen Connecticut counts as well as on the Napatree, RI/CT CBC.   
Woodbury-Roxbury next reported three Black Vultures in 1996-97.  From  
1996-97 to last year’s count, Woodbury-Roxbury has recorded Black  
Vulture each year with numbers ranging from three to highs of 105 in  
2006-07 and 102 in 2008-09.  This count leads the state with a total  
of 258 Black Vultures since the first State CBC sighting was made.   
Other mid-state counts have seen the following results for Black  
Vulture:  Pawling, NY-Hidden Valley, CT, 1st record in 1997-98, highs  
of 49 in 2007-08 and 36 in 2006-07, a total of 192 during the past  
twelve years; Oxford, 1st record in 1999-2000, highs of 44 in 2006-07  
and 42 in 2008-09, a total of 124 in the past ten years; Quinnipiac  
Valley, 1st and only record in 2008-09 when six were counted.  Salmon  
River has not recorded Black Vulture on its counts.  The mid-state  
counts have combined to report a total of 580 Black Vultures in 19  
years.

Among coastal counts, Greenwich-Stamford first recorded Black Vulture  
on the 1995-96 CBC when one was seen.  Westport followed in 1998-99,  
as did New Haven in 1999-2000 and New London in 2001-02.  New London  
now leads all coastal counts with 123 Black Vultures recorded during  
the past seven years, with highs of 52 in 2007-08 and 18 in 2008-09.   
Westport has the second highest total with 52 Black Vultures (25 in  
2005-06 and 10 in 2008-09).  Greenwich-Stamford recorded 17 in  
2006-07 and 7 in 2007-08, a total of 37 in 13 years.  New Haven has  
counted 33 Black Vultures in 10 years, with highs of 20 in 2006-07  
and 13 in 2005-06.  Stratford-Milford and Old Lyme-Saybrook have yet  
to record Black Vulture on a CBC.  Coastal count circles have  
reported 245 Black Vultures in the last 14 years.  [Napatree first  
recorded Black Vulture in 2002-03 and has counted18 Black Vultures in  
2002-03 and 17 in 2004-04, a total of 46 Black Vultures in its seven  
year history through last year.]

Litchfield Hills was the first northern count to record Black Vulture  
with one CW in 1996-97.  Lakeville-Sharon had its first Black Vulture  
in 2005-06 and leads all northern counts with 12 reported in four  
years (highs of 7 in 2008-09 and 4 in 2006-07).  Litchfield Hills has  
recorded a total of 10 Black Vultures with high counts of 4 in  
2005-06 and 2 each in 1999-2000, 2001-02, and 2008-09.  Storrs first  
recorded Black Vulture in 2001-02 with a CW sighting and followed  
with a single Black Vulture count day in 2006-07.  Hartford had 4  
Black Vultures in 2008-09, the first year that the species was  
reported on their CBC.  Jay Kaplan writes that 3 Black Vultures were  
recorded on this year’s count.  Edwin Way Teale-Trail Wood observed 2  
Black Vultures in 2008-09, the first such records in this count  
circle.  Barkhamsted has not yet recorded Black Vulture on its  
count.  Northern CBCs have the lowest regional total of Black  
Vultures with 29 in the last 13 years, fully half these being  
recorded on last year’s count.

The following conclusions can be drawn:
(1)  Black Vulture did not occur on a Connecticut Christmas Bird  
Count until 1989-90, but its numbers have increased fairly steadily  
in the years since then.  Big jumps in numbers have occurred in  
1997-98 and again in 2005-06.

(2)  Greater than two-thirds of all Black Vulture records on CBCs  
have been in mid-state count circles.  Woodbury-Roxbury, Pawling- 
Hidden Valley, and Oxford counts are most likely to record sizeable  
numbers of this species.

(3)  Greater than 25% of Black Vultures have been recorded on coastal  
counts, with New London easily setting the pace, followed by  
Westport, Greenwich-Stamford, and New Haven.

(4)  Northern counts are least likely to record Black Vulture at  
present, with slightly more than 3% of all CBC sightings occurring  
there.  Northwestern Connecticut count circles have the most reports  
of Black Vulture in these higher latitudes.

(5)  While half of CBC Turkey Vulture sightings have occurred on  
coastal counts and 38% have occurred on mid-state counts, the  
greatest numbers of Black Vultures have been on mid-state counts and  
29% have been along the coast.  Interestingly, northern counts have a  
three-times-greater share of statewide Turkey Vultures than they do  
Black Vultures, although these percentages are just 10% and 3.4%,  
respectively.

(6)  It will be interesting to see if the more aggressive Black  
Vulture continues to expand its influence toward the coast in  
upcoming years.


CBC Year            Northern            Mid-State             
Coastal            Statewide
1989-90            0                        1                         
0                        1
1990-91            0                        0                         
0                        0
1991-92            0                        0                         
0                        0
1992-93            0                        3                         
0                        3
1993-94            0                        0                         
0                        0
1994-95            0                        0                         
0                        0
1995-96            0                        0                         
1                        1
1996-97            CW                        3                         
CW                        3
1997-98            0                        28                         
0                        28
1998-99            0                        8                         
2                        10
1999-00            2                        10                         
CW                        12
2000-01            0                        8                         
CW                        8
2001-02            2                        46                         
6                        54
2002-03            0                        30                         
0                        30
2003-04            CW                         
29                        12                        41
2004-05            CW                         
63                        4                        67
2005-06            5                        56                         
49                        110
2006-07            5                         
105                        78                        188
2007-08            0                        88                         
62                        150
2008-09            15                         
102                        31                        148

Total                        29                         
580                        245                        854


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