Doc Buzzard is hangin' around...
January 5, 2012 9:20 PM Subscribe
What the heck are all these birds of prey doing
posted by WidgetAlley to pets & animals (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For three days in a row, now, I have walked out of my apartment about 45 min. before sundown and seen not one, not two, but hundreds of birds of prey streaming across the sky in an orderly and determined fashion, in a period of perhaps 20 minutes. Where are they going and why?
A bit of background: I live in middle/northern TN, on the side of one of the higher hills in a relatively flat area, overlooking a river. Across the river is a quarry, which has delved into the side of some bluffs for quite a long way. Because of the confluence of river, hill, and cliffs, it's not unusual to see some raptors hanging around, riding the thermals. That's not what's going on.
A few more details that hopefully will help the ornithologists among you:
- One day before the first migration, I saw several hundred turkey vultures gathered on the cliffs above the quarry. They were breaking off and wheeling around in small groups but were not moving en masse as they are now.
- The birds are mixed groups, mostly turkey buzzards but I definitely saw the white wings and bellies of several kestrels or red-tailed hawks as well.
- They are at a fairly uniform altitude, ranging from 10+ ft. above the treetops to perhaps 75 ft. This is clearly not optimal cruising height because they are having to flap their wings more frequently than I have previously observed.
- They are moving from the quarry over the hill and towards the flatlands, coming from the northeast and headed for the southwest.
- I have followed them for some time, but have not seen them lower altitude, circle or land anywhere, which leads me to believe they are not after a recent piece of roadkill or similar.
- They are gone by the time the sun goes down.
- This is the first time I've ever seen it, and I've lived in this area for 6 years (it is possible I've missed it previously, though, as this is my first year in this exact spot.)
- And, here's the kicker: turkey vultures, according to the Internet at least, do not generally migrate this far south.
So: it's probably not a migration, it's definitely not mating season, and it's not a fresh kill as far as I can tell. It is, however, one of the coolest things I've ever seen, and I'd love to know what's going on!