During the winter and early spring of 2012 I had a unique opportunity to monitor and observe a Black Vulture nest over the course of an entire breeding season. The nest was located on a patch of gravel in a courtyard just behind a mirrored one-way window–a fortuitous situation that allowed for closeup viewing with out disturbing the subjects.

I began observing just before the eggs were laid, and continued on until the young had fledged and left the nest. I stopped by every week or so, and wrote up a detailed article after each visit to document the how things were progressing.

In this post I have collected links to all of those more comprehensive articles in one place, in order to create a summary overview of the progression from egg to fledgling. Each dated entry in this post refers to one of the more detailed posts. The full accounts can be viewed by clicking the associated “read more” buttons.

February 26, 2012 – Eggs in the Nest

A pair of Black Vulture eggs in the nest–freshly laid.

This is the first in what will be a series of weekly updates on a active Black Vulture nest. The nest is located on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas…

March 3, 2012 – Incubating Eggs

Incubating eggs on the nest

A quick visit to the Black Vulture nest found everything proceeding as expected. This is approximately the 14th day of incubation. Very little had changed since our last visit, and the nest and eggs appeared to be in good condition…

March 17, 2012 – Incubation Continues

Incubation continues into the third week

On this visit to the nest we again found everything proceeding as expected. This is approximately the 25th day of incubation. Very little had changed since our last visit, and the nest and eggs appeared to be in good condition…

March 31, 2012 – One Egg Hathces, One Egg is Lost

Only one egg hatched

We have a baby Black Vulture! We received word that the first baby Black Vulture hatched at around 1:00pm on March 26, 2012 after approximately 34 days of incubation…

April 7, 2012 – Taking Care of Baby

The surviving chick is thriving

This week the vultures really put on quite a show for us! We got to see an absolutely disgusting feeding of the now nearly two week old chick. Long strands of mucus covered, regurgitated red meat. Seriously gross…

April 14, 2012 – Getting Bigger

Growing fast

The baby vulture has nearly doubled in size since our last visit a week ago. While we were on site, we witnessed The chick interact with the parent, including brief feeding activity. On several occasions the chick was seen to stretch its wings and legs…

April 21, 2012 – Pin Feathers!

Flight feather begin to emerge

On this visit we were shocked to find the baby vulture unattended when we arrived. We were also shocked by the baby vulture’s rapid growth. This juvenile has doubled in size since our last visit, and is about 3/4 of the size of an adult bird now. Flight feathers are beginning to emerge at the wing tips…

April 28, 2012 – This is How You Feed a Baby Vulture

Regurgitation is how it is done

It was a good show put on by the vultures today. The juvenile was all alone when we arrived, but the first adult showed up within just a few minutes. This adult came right into the nesting area and immediately began feeding the chick…

May 5, 2012 – Exploring Away from the Nest

Starting to have a look around

When we arrived at UNT Discovery Park, we found one of the adult vultures perched on the roof of the building in a position where he was visible from the parking lot. I took a couple of long range photographs from there…

May 12, 2012 – Black Feathers Replace White

Black feathers are emerging all over

One parent vulture was sitting on the buildings roof when we arrived. This bird took flight as we exited our vehicle and flew away to the southeast…

May 19, 2012 – Giving the Baby Some Room

Parents at the front gate

When we arrived at the university today, we found the two adult Black Vultures waiting for us at the front door! This was quite a shock, as this is the first time we have encountered the two big black birds at this location…

May 26, 2012 – Changing Fast and Venturing Far from the Nest

Leaving the nest behind

The baby vulture is now the size of a full grown adult, and black feathers are beginning to peek out from under the white, downy coat he wore as a chick…

June 2, 2012 – As Big as Mom

If you count the fluff, he is even bigger!

There was one adult present with the juvenile today when we arrived. The pair was near a courtyard door some distance away from the original nest site. The young vulture has clearly outgrown the corner of the courtyard where he got his start. He is nearly equal in size to the adult birds now, and his black feathers are coming in strong…

June 9, 2012 – Almost Grown

Only a little of the downy white remains

The juvenile Black Vulture has abandoned his original nest site for a location more to his liking. This change in location is the young vultures first attempt at asserting his independence. Small steps like this one is how young animals begin to break their dependence on there parents…

June 16, 2012 – It Won’t Be Long Now

Almost ready to fly

The Black Vulture chick was unattended and hidden deep inside some bushes when I arrived today. After a few minutes, the juvenile vulture emerged and stood on the sidewalk, allowing me the chance to take some nice photographs of him. Other than that, it was an uneventful day. The only other thing of note is the vulture’s continued progress. I expect only one or two weeks are left before he is ready to leave the nest…

June 23, 2012 – Week Twelve

Twelve weeks old

The Black Vulture chick was on his own today when we arrived today. He was hidden deep in the landscaping, seeking solace from the beating sun. He came out briefly, and spent the majority of this time preening his newly developed feathers…

June 31, 2012 – Off the Ground

First Flight

We found the entire family together on Saturday when we first arrived. Unfortunately, there was too much glare on the windows for good pictures…

3 Replies to “Black Vulture – Egg to Fledgling”

  1. We live in Kaufman and a construction crew started clearing an area by an old barn across the street. We see vultures there all the time. A baby looking about 1 – 2 months old showed up and Is hiding in our shed. This is day 2, it already looks weak. What should we do?

  2. After WEEKS of waiting (eggs first noticed March 4th) we had babies hatch yesterday! (This is in an abandoned outbuilding on our property.) I’m so excited to watch our 2 black vulture babies grow!

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