Inquiring minds want to know. : )
Christie, that is exactly what my husband and I were wondering up here in Pennsylvania! The question arose when we were driving home from work back when it first started getting really chilly here and we noticed buzzards swarming -- I can't say that I remember ever seeing that in Missouri. There were hundreds of them all swirling around in the sky and when we wondered why they were doing that one of the things that popped up was maybe they're getting ready to leave....Although neither one of us had ever heard of buzzards migrating as a flock. As the conversation went on we left it by saying of all the birds we read about and research, neither one of us has ever had the desire (in the past) to check up on the habits of buzzards. But now, I too, would like to know.....
The Turkey Vulture, commonly known as a "Buzzard", does migrate from the Northern states into the Southern states and some as far as S America. There is an annual Buzzards celebration during March in Hinkley, OH, heralding their return. They, along with the Black Vulture, are permanent residents in Southern states. They are soaring birds and rely on rising air currents(thermals) to support their flight. During Northern winters, they would have a difficult time finding prey, as frozen meat emits no odor and their alternate source of food; grasses, are dormant..
Usually, when a group is circling, they have spotted(smelled, with their acute sense) prey. a dead animal or garbage containing decaying animal remains in that vicinity. I have not heard or observed that they migrate in flocks(groups). Maybe someone else can solve that puzzle.
Thanks, Razorback! I'll see what I can dig up. All I know is that they do go away in winter but what I am most curious about is that behavior I described. It was a really weird sight and it wasn't consistent...One day there where hundreds of them swirling...then a week would go by and then there they were again. It was chilly, but if it was something that was decaying, it never got THAT chilly that things would freeze and the odors stop....Like Christie said..."inquiring minds..."
Well..I sent an email to the Turkey Vultures Society describing the flocking behavior I observed, and here is the response I received...FYI:
"You were probably observing several different groups of Turkey Vultures in migration. During migration, large groups of vultures from all over the U.S. congregate along 3 major flyways (one flyway goes right over Gettysburg), working their way south until they have found a comfortable climate to winter in. THe migration lasts for up to 3 months. Some begin in Canada and end in the central U.S., and others travel as far as Mexico and South America. In migration, vultures conserve their energy by riding thermals (pockets of hot air) upward in a circling motion, then diving at a low angle, soaring for as long as they can before reaching another thermal. They rarely flap their wings. But these birds can not fly during the night. When the sun begins to set, they must settle wherever they are. This accounts for the occasional (or progressive) sightings of enormous groups of vultures in unusual areas."
I am a faithful Buzzard watcher! and can tell you YES they migrate and usually by this time of the year, they've returned to our area. However, this has been a very hard/cold/lots of snow winter and right now, they are still waiting to come back. Our ground is starting to show today, and our temps are milder "43" today. Our low was 8 degrees night before last. The Buzzard's are a welcome site to North Central Pa.
I saw hundreds of buzzards come over the house today Feb. 28in Durham NC. They were at different altitudes and headed south west. What wuld cause this???
I haven't seen them come back yet this year. There is a dead tree close by where they roost at night and they are always riding the air currents over our house when they are here, but no sign of them so far. They are becoming a very common sight in the Missouri Ozarks.
They are very common here too but none to be seen now. One of the back roads I frequent often has several dozen basking in the sun with wings spread on the road early in the morning. No doubt they are taking advantage of the heat coming off the blacktop.
I live 1 hour north of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I took pictures today of 3 turkey vultures flying. At first I thought they were eagles but once on my computer,i zoomed in and it's a turkey vulture!... I hope this means spring is on it's way.
The buzzards are back! I saw them circling the woods a couple of days ago. There was a small flock of 5 or so.
Usually in our Governors Club neighborhood in Chapel Hill the Turkey Vultures sit at least hundreds of feet above the community on the power towers that run through the core of the neighborhood. Only coming down in 2's or 3's to fight over a dead squirrel in the street. However, this morning I was unpleasantly surprised to see fifty or sixty had gathered around my property circling and settling on my roof and trees. They are so large when they passed a window it would go dark. I had assumed all morning they were hawks. I was then horrified to find hundreds of them later in the day (about 5:00 PM est) all over my roof and trees as well as my next door neighbors roof and trees. Hoping a deer had died attracting them (and not my neighbors) I went to check in her. Unfortunately no one was home. I called the Property Management Office to come find out what had died (and fix it), but apparently after 5 on a Friday they have no interest in Vulture infestations. Walkers and joggers had been stopping at the end of our steep cliff like driveway with worried looks on their faces probably thinking the same thing I was, had some mass murder happened up here?? What could possibly require the attraction of this many Turkey Vultures?? As soon as the sunset they finally stopped increasing in number and started disappearing. I'm hoping it was a migration and not something very large and dead nearby. Thank you for all the posts. I feel slightly better they cannot fly at night or someone said. Knowing they have limitations makes me feel a little better. I tried to attach several pics of them all, but I was only allowed one pic upload.
Another vulture pic
Another Vulture pic
Wow I don't blame you for checking on your neighbors. I would've been worried too. I assume they're home now and ok.
I've never seen so many in one place. We live a few miles out of town and it's not unusual to see perhaps 10 or 12 circling if an animal has died.
Beautiful home by the way.
Wow, GClub, I hope that's not your home the buzzards are on! They can make quite a mess.
There are huge flocks of them at Roaring River. And mess is right! We fish down there in the summer. Every morning when we head out at 7 am, we go past the campground swimming pool and they are roosting on the roof, the fence, and inside the pool area.
I'm sure they are gone by the time the pool opens but I am for sure not swimming in that pool, lol! It must be a huge problem for the park caretakers.
We see them soaring and circling every summer here but they aren't a problem. Not sure where they are roosting now that their tree has fallen but somewhere nearby in the woods along the interstate, I think. Lot of deer killed on I-44 a couple blocks south of here, so there is a constant source of food for them.