Mark D. Roberts


Recently, I’ve been fascinated by big birds in my back yard. No, no, not the Big Bird from Sesame Street (pictured to the right). Rather, I’m talking about hawks and vultures.

A certain hawk, at least I think it’s one hawk, has been visiting the electric pole in my yard. I’m pretty sure it’s a Red-Shouldered Hawk, which is found throughout much of the country. In the photo below, you can see the hawk screeching with a most distinctive, piercing screech. (You can hear the sound here.)


Here’s a picture of the hawk flying away.


Hawks are beautiful and I’m glad to have them visit. But I’m not so sure about the next big birds. What does it mean when three vultures decide to sit on my roof?


These are Black Vultures, not Turkey Vultures (which have red heads). Here’s a close-up of one of the vultures.


Vultures are not the prettiest of birds, especially because of their bare, featherless heads, not to mention black feathers. The lack of feathers on their heads is helpful to vultures because it keeps them from getting rancid, rotting meat stuck on their heads when they eat. Vultures eat dead animals, which gives them a rather nasty reputation. But I have come to appreciate them, because they really do serve a valuable sanitary purpose by cleaning up road kill. I just have to be careful about taking a nap in the back yard when vultures are lurking on my roof.

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