Riding the Lovettsville thermals
By John P. Flannery
North of Lovettsville, about twenty Black Vultures soared on thermal air currents in figure eights in the sky in and around one another in a captivating display. They seek out these updrafts to carry them high into the sky.
Often mistaken for eagles, these birds can be distinguished in flight from Turkey Vultures by the fact that they hold their 60 inch wings nearly flat and they flap in a rapid and shallow fashion while they soar. They have shorter wings and tails than Turkey Vultures.
Their under-wings are mostly dark except for pale white wing tips. They have dark wrinkled gray-black heads. They are more social than the Turkey Vulture and found in large flocks.
We caught about half the soaring flock at rest on a three board fence paddock by the side of the road, the Berlin Turnpike. They appeared unperturbed. They spread their wings for sunning.
While some are offended by the Vultures’ menacing appearance, these raptors clean up the environment. So watch out for their next air show.