Sunday, March 28, 2010

Vocal Ravens And Black Vultures In Flight

This is a view from the top of Great Hill. Looking across in the distant background is Sleeping Giant State Park. The park which got its name because the hills within the park supposedly look like a giant lying on its back when seen from a distance.
While hiking up Great Hill I was listening to Johnny Cash on my mp3. He was singing a song he wrote in 2002 titled: When The Man Comes Around . It seemed fitting that I was listening to a singer known as "The Man In Black" as the birds of black began a performance of their own. I spent the next two hours watching 4 Common Ravens displaying aerial maneuvers and communicating with each other using various vocalizations. Observers have counted them making up to 30 different vocalizations and they also have the ability to mimic a human voice. I think if a raven landed next to me and started talking I would be concerned that the altitude was causing a shortage of oxygen to my brain. There were also 2 Black Vultures and several Turkey Vultures sharing the same air space with the ravens. The tail of the Black Vulture appears short and stout compared to the tail of a Turkey Vulture. You can also see the silvery wingtips which are present on the Black Vulture but not the Turkey Vulture.
The silver wingtips are even more noticeable when you viewing them as they are flying directly over head.
click to play
You can hear some of the vocalizations and watch some of the flight maneuvers of the ravens on this video. Towards the end a Black Vulture also makes an appearance. Ravens are known to be both playful and intelligent. I was reading about the Common Raven on Wikipedia and was fascinated by some of the interesting things that they have been observed doing like sliding down snowbanks for fun and dropping stones on predators that wander too close to their nests. They were very uncommon in Connecticut up until just a few years ago. It's mice to have the opportunity to watch them so close to home.


Chris said...

Hi Larry,
Superb post, I loved the video! But I have to say that I would definitively love to see again the turkey vulture. They are so great, nice you can see them!

Kathie Brown said...

Great post, Larry! It's funny, but I only see black vultures down near the border with Mexico here in my state but I saw them all over the place when we were traveling through Kentucky, Tennesee and Alabama.

Larry said...

Chris-I took some Turkey Vultures photos but they were either really far away or right above my head. The ones that went right over me had bad lighting because thesun was hitting the back of them and they're pretty big. What kind of vultures do you have over your way Chris?

Kathiebirds-Maybe there's more roadkill over that way.

Unknown said...

I am still trying to find that sleeping giant.

Larry said...

mathew-He's sleeping right now and doesn't want to be disturbed.

Spencer said...

I'm envious of those Black Vultures! I was in Florida recently, but missed them. Nice Post!