The 2013 breeding season began February 3rd with fifteen vultures, including two turkey vultures, being observed outside the Vulture Shed. Three black vultures visited the inside of the shed together on February 5th. Courting and mating by a pair of black vultures were observed on February 11th. Visits to the inside of the shed by a black vulture pair continued through March 2, when mating was observed again. The first egg was laid on March 3 around 7:00 PM and the second laid on March 6 at 8:34 AM. Hatching began April 11, about 39 days later. This is the same elapsed time as for the past two years. Only one of the chicks survived the strenuous 30-hour hatching process. On May 12th, two orphan black vulture chicks were introduced to the nest. The adult birds cared for all three chicks, and they successfully fledged in late June. The birds continued to be seen in and around the shed into August. Numbered wing-tags were placed on the adult male and all three chicks to enable tracking them in future years.
The parents decided to name their unadopted chick “Stephen Colbert,” after the late night TV personality. The parents said they thought Mr. Colbert was cute and they thought about him often, especially when they were hungry. Stephen Colbert’s name has also been given to a falcon, turtle, spider, elephant seal, and ice cream.
Two eggs were laid this year but, sadly, one chick did not survive the strenuous, 30+ hour hatching process. Stephen did fine.
On May 7th, two black vulture chicks from Princess Anne MD, which were orphaned when the barn where they hatched was torn down, were brought to Tri-State Bird Rescue. On May 12th, 29 days after Stephen hatched, the orphan chicks were successfully renested with the vulture family being monitored by Tri-State. All three chicks were cared for by the adults and snuggled together. “V-cube,” the Vigilant Vulture Viewers recording important data on the birds, named the orphans Ethyl and Thiol after mercaptans, the chemicals emitted from carrion that attract vultures. Ethyl had a temporary yellow band on the right leg and later received a permanent tag on the right wing with number 267. Thiol had a temporary red band on the left leg and later received a permanent tag on the left wing with the number 30. Stevie received a permanent tag on the left wing with the number 26. These permanent wing-tags were affixed on June 13th by experienced bird handlers from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
Stevie (tag #26) was most recently seen on 3/3/16 in Middletown, DE.
Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.