Tuesday, April 05, 2016


 Last week, apropos of nothing, we began having visitors to the ledge outside our sixteenth-floor windows.

The first visitor was a decent-sized Blackbird, who walked the fifteen or so feet along the ledge, looking for morsels of food and little bugs and what-not.

The second visitor was a crow. Having not been face-to-face with a full grown crow before, I was astonished at how big it was.

I was even more astonished at how big its beak alone was. I'm familiar with the business ends of birds, having been around turkeys and having held a hawk. But this seemed to be as big as both of my thumbs and built pretty solidly. And it looked like an all purpose kind of tool, pointier than the blunt beak of a seed cracker and more mechanically solid than the flesh tearing hook of a raptor.

While we watched, the crow turned to speak to us. In one comment, it looked through the glass and with a very ostentatious display of leaning forward and downward, it made a quiet almost cooing sound.

In a second comment, it again looked through the glass, and made the classic caw of its specie. (This is what it is doing in the picture below). It was...vehement.

The next visitor came a day or two later. It was a Black Vulture, an elegant and imposing bird. It made a spectacular swooping approach to the ledge, then alighted very delicately. Then, in a classic display of avian behavior, it squatted down and shot a white gush of feces onto the parking garage below.

The Vulture strutted along the ledge, pausing occasionally to examine us through the glass. There is a large community of vultures in the area, and we see them constantly in the sky, soaring on the updrafts and currents shaped by the office buildings in the neighborhood. But this was the first time in the almost six months we've been here that one deigned to land on our ledge.

Not a pigeon. Not one bit.
The Black Vulture is a handsome and imposing bird with its deep grey wrinkled head devoid of feathers. Its beak is notable for the perforate nostrils, with an opening passing completely through the undivided beak. They are about the same mass as Turkey Vultures, though they tend to have smaller wingspans.

To my mind, the dark plumage, grey head and grey neck make the Black Vulture more dignified in appearance that its relative, the Turkey Vulture. The Turkey Vulture is probably better known than the Black because of its garish, rather gruesome pink coloration, oddly shaped head and short, ivory beak stuck to the front of its head.

Fun fact: The name "Vulture" comes from the Latin term for 'tearer.' Yeah, think about that for a minute.
Who owns the ledge? Me. I do.

Sorry for the poor photo quality.  The vulture wasn't cooperating.

We were a bit concerned that this was a commentary on our project.

No, it's just a Black Vulture. Looking in the window at us.
No further significance.