Island Count- Wind

Part of what I’m attempting to find out is what do the raptors do when the wind is from a particular direction. Do they fly low with certain winds? Are they passing on a particular side of the island? Do they get really high and go straight overhead? I need a little more time to say for sure, but observing birds in the wind does show some different behaviors.

One in particular is rather odd to me. The past three of four days now we have had winds from the East, and they’ve been gusty. Most of the birds passing by seem to be using it as a tail wind as they round the island and fly through on the West side. They will first appear on the Southeast point of the island and hug the bluff line on the West side. However, each day I have seen upwards of 25 Turkey Vultures doing almost the opposite. These are birds that have obviously already passed Fort Holmes and appear behind me on the Northeast side. Instead of kettling up like I am used to seeing vultures do, they almost look like they are in formation, not a single one flapping their wings. They all face into the wind, using it to gain height. Instead of then turning to keep going on their migration, they very slowly drift back South.

It is odd to see several dozen Turkey Vultures not moving in relation to each other and hardly moving in relation to the ground; they almost seem to hang there. Over the course of a half-hour or more, this group moves South and out of sight. Where do they go? Why aren’t they moving North? I would assume that at some point those same individual birds come back and pass through, but I can’t say which ones they are. They are a conundrum to which we might not get an answer, at least not this year!

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