NYT: What Does a Black Vulture Over Manhattan Mean for Climate Change? Milder winters, shrinking habitats and new migratory patterns have changed the birds of the city

I had about 30 of these black vultures on my cabin & toolshed roofs in the jungle some months ago due to a dead deer decomposing in the Nature Preserve next door. They are a very important part of the Keys ecosystem, and now it looks like NYC will discover these guys will clean up their roadkill going into and out of the City.

By Camille Baker

March 18, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET

If you need proof that climate change has altered the wildlife of the city, look no further than the black vultures soaring above Midtown Manhattan. These hulking, baldheaded scavengers have a wingspan that measures nearly five feet and have traditionally inhabited South America, Central America and the southern United States.

But the black vulture seems to be here for the foreseeable future, along with 20 or 30 species that have recently expanded their ranges into New York City. As weather patterns have warped, and habitats have shrunk and food supplies diminished, the migratory patterns of birds have also changed.

“It would have been unheard-of,” said Andrew Farnsworth, a researcher at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, to spot a black vulture in Manhattan 30 or 40 years ago. Now, more than 300 sightings have been recorded in the city since March 2022, according to the Cornell-managed citizen-science project eBird. Black vultures are moving north because of milder temperatures and the ability to scavenge in suburbs near the city, Dr. Farnsworth said. He estimated that as many as 30 new species have joined the more than 200 bird species that regularly spend time in the metro area.


As a former Casualty Clerk, I know the smell of death (and tattooed on my brain is the smell of the burn wards at Wiesbaden Hospital during Vietnam.) But these guys alerted me to that corpse within hours of the deer's death and I had no idea one of my favorite bucks to visit me in the yard for years had finally keeled over. ( I couldn't smell him, but then again, Cancer has screwed my olfactory sense for certain smells - not all smells.) These black vultures picked that buck clean in 2 days. Where that buck died is so close to my front door that I think he "came home" to die, as I and my wife always greeted him in the early morning and late evening hours.

The day these creatures used my roofline for a rest stop I went out and said, nicely, “As long as you are not here for me, you can stick around. Now let me go find out why you are here.”

I’m the only person I know who thinks this is a beautiful bird. They have that “bouncer” look in their eyes. (But I’ve never seen one mess with my Peregrine Falcon who comes down to my neck of the woods to have babies every year.

Speaking of which, we have two American Bald eagles perching in the tallest dead jungle trees. I hope they are still out there (been raining all day, they might have taken refuge in foilage below in the canopy.)