Monday, December 18, 2006

75 Years Ago in West Virginia Ornithological History

The first reported occurrences of the Black Vulture in West Virginia were made known to ornithologists by way of two articles published in The Auk (the journal of the American Ornithologists’ Union) in November 1931:
Handley, Charles O., Sr. 1931. The Black Vulture in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. Auk 48:598-599. Eight birds attracted to a dead hog on a farm near Lewisburg, July 3-4, 1930, constitute the first known record for the county and State, although breeding was confirmed as early as 1919 at a locality (in Rockbridge County, Virginia) only about 30 miles from West Virginia (see Auk 46:385, 1929).
Ball, W. Howard. 1931. The Black Vulture (Coragyps urubu) at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Auk 48:599. One bird was observed at this locality on April 12, 1931.
Since then, there has been an erratic but steady increase in the number of Black Vultures wintering in the State, as revealed by data from the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The increase becomes most notable in the 1970s, the decade in which a reasonable number of CBCs first began to be conducted in West Virginia. The increase since then has been quite dramatic, as illustrated in the following graphs:

Credits: The graphs are based on data from the Christmas Bird Count and are presented here courtesy of the National Audubon Society.


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