Vultures are on Patrol in the Hudson Valley
This past weekend there was a lot going on in my neighborhood but it didn't have anything to do with my neighbors. Actually, I should rephrase that, it didn't have anything to do with my human neighbors. My vulture neighbors were out in force. I believe it had to do with my coyote neighbors doing some deer hunting.
Now that spring is right around the corner we are in Coyote breeding season. You may have seen people reporting coyote sightings on social media sites the last few weeks around the Hudson Valley. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, late winter and early spring coyotes will have pups and this causes them to hunt more aggressively.
The cold snowy February that we had has left the coyotes hungry and it has also left deer in a fragile state. The woods near me have been full of coyote hunting deer and this weekend it leads to a vulture party.
Last fall I became aware of just how many vultures I actually have in my neighborhood when all the deer were dying from Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). For about two weeks there were vultures in the sky and in crowds on the ground in fields near my house. Fun fact, a group of Vultures is called a Committee or a Venue they have also been referred to as a Volt.
If you live in the woods long enough in the Hudson Valley you are bound to come across a committee of vultures eating something on the side of the road. The first time you witness it your reaction might surprise you, it is gross if their meal is in plain view but it is also amazing to see the size of these birds up close.
Turkey Vultures are bigger than Black Vultures and in case you are wondering we have both in New York State. The Turkey vulture is most likely the ones you see soaring in the skies. The Black Vulture is often spotted hanging on rooftops. Both are scavengers and are referred to by many as nature's garbage trucks. It doesn't take long for a hungry committee of vultures to take care of a deer carcass leaving just the bones for other forest animals.
If you drive around on a cold morning you will often see vultures sitting on roofs and chimneys. I ask a friend why they do that and the simple answer is they are warming up. They like to sit in warm spots to soak up the heat. They will often stretch their wings to draw in the warmth. Next time you drive through New Paltz early in the morning look on the rooftops you will see them everywhere.