Breeding Bird Atlas 1 Additional Accounts

Black Vulture

Coragyps atratus

One of the most recent additions to the list of Massachusetts breeding birds is the Black Vulture. Norman Smith confirmed the first nesting of this species in the Commonwealth in the Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, Norfolk County, in 1998. The continued presence of two to three suspicious- acting adults near a rocky ledge eventually led to the discovery of a nest on June 23. A single young fledged on August 2.

Black Vultures have been gradually expanding their breeding range northward from the south. The species was first confirmed as a breeder in New Jersey in 1981 (Walsh et al 1999), and by 1995 nesting was suspected in western Connecticut (AB). The regular presence of several Black Vultures in the Sheffield area of southern Berkshire County during the summers of 1998 and 1999 could presage further Bay State nesting attempts. Surprisingly, this species has not been documented as a breeding species in New York.

The status of Black Vultures in Massachusetts prior to the first successful nesting in 1998 was that of rare to very uncommon nearly annual visitors, at least since the 1950s. The species can appear in any season the year and has occurred in every county in the state. Although most records are in midsummer and fall, there are a few winter records, including one to two in Turkey Vulture roosts in Randolph during the mid- 1990s, not far from the Blue Hills nesting location.