Tuesday was a dreary day in our neck of the woods. At breakfast, Tiny Girl, who is now suffering from fifth disease, bless her, looked out the kitchen window and exclaimed over three very BIG birds up in the tops of our backyard trees. The birds looked black, but beyond that, identification was difficult due to the grayness of the day and the falling rain. But we persisted.
Tiny Girl Googled "huge black bird" and came up with some possibilities, which we investigated online. Only one seemed likely: the black vulture. We've seen turkey vultures here in our neighborhood before. But we could not get a clear view of this bird's head, so we were still unsure.
However, there were a few other clues. The birds high in the trees were silent. There were, as I said, three of them. They weren't gathered together in one tree, but they seemed "together." Their legs were light-colored in contrast to the rest of their bodies. And there was a murder (or flock, if you prefer) of crows haranguing these large, black birds. We've seen crows behave the same toward other vultures and hawks.
When the rain slowed to a sprinkle, I ventured out, camera in hand. I was able to get a decent shot, much to my delighted surprise. While I was outside, one of the birds spread its wings and held them outstretched, a behavior we've observed in turkey vultures.
In the above photo, you can (sort of) make out the shape of the bird's head, but you can't really see the pattern on its wings. I could see both clearly from my spot in the yard. After I took a few more snaps, the bird silently lifted off and soared away.
With all the information we'd gathered, we positively identified these birds as black vultures.
The second bird in my tale makes me happy every day. It's a solar dancing penguin. I'm fortunate to have two of them in my kitchen window because each of my daughters received one in a birthday favor bag from a friend. When sunlight hits the small screen on the white base, the little penguins rock back and forth. One of them is a sedate waltzer; its rock is in a series of four with a pause between each series. The other is more frenetic, rocking energetically and continuously.
What can I say? It doesn't take much to make me smile.