I recently had the opportunity to photograph the American Black Vulture during a visit to the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.
Over the years, I have discovered that a pair of these birds return to the same location every year to nest. During my visit, I was able to witness the vultures checking out their nesting spot, which is in a hollow tree. The tree features a hole near the ground, providing easy access for the vultures to come and go.
American Black Vultures are known to be social birds that form pairs during the breeding season, which typically occurs from January to June. During this time, they construct their nests, which are usually located in tree cavities, rock crevices, or abandoned buildings.
Interestingly, American Black Vultures are known to return to the same nesting site year after year, as was the case with the pair I observed at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge. This behavior is known as site fidelity, and it’s a crucial part of their reproductive success.
The female vulture lays one to three eggs, which both parents incubate for approximately 38 days. Once the eggs hatch, the parents take turns feeding and caring for their chicks. After about 70 to 80 days, the young vultures fledge and leave the nest, though they may continue to stay near their parents for several months.
It’s worth noting that American Black Vultures are considered a “near-threatened” species, primarily due to habitat loss and persecution. However, they are also known to play a crucial ecological role by scavenging carrion and helping to control populations of disease-carrying organisms.
In short, the nesting behavior of American Black Vultures is a fascinating and vital part of their life cycle, and observing these birds in their natural habitat is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
- Date and Time Taken: March 4, 2023 (11:39 A. M.)
- Exposure Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f11 (Fixed)
- Shutter speed: 1/1250
- ISO: 2000 (Auto)
- Exposure Compensation: +2/3 EV
- Focal Length: 800 mm
Here are three more photos I have taken of the American Black Vulture at this refuge: