Help identifying by description please!

by Lindsey
(London, ON, Canada)

Okay, so my friend and I are having a difficult time identifying some birds we saw today. I wish we had a camera with us so I could post pics!


It was the most amazing thing we've seen in a long time! They were sooooooo close to us! It gave us goosebumps and chills. Absolutely breathtaking!!! I'm carrying my camera with me everywhere from now on!

There were three of them flying in close proximity, but not necessarily together.

At first glance we thought 'Hawk', then based on the colour, thought Turkey Vulture, but as they came closer ... now we aren't sure. They flew about 15-20ft above our heads for several minutes.

From far away they looked black underneath, but up close they were a very dark brown. The top wing feathers were dark brown with some lighter, almost reddish brown feathers.

The head was not red like a Turkey Vulture and was also not bald (it had dark brown feathers).

The tail was spread out like a fan and I find the Turkey Vulture to have more of a square shaped tail. The wingspan at most was 3ft from tip to tip.

My gut tells me that they were Hawks, but the thing that is throwing us off, is the dark colour of the under feathers and that there were several flying close to each other.

They were soaring fairly fast as well, and my experience with Turkey Vultures is more of a floating effect, and these were definitely soaring.

Could they possibly have been immature Turkey Vultures? Maybe explaining the feathers on the head and smaller wingspan?

The date today is May 10th, 2011 in case that matters, as far as when they're usually hatched and whatnot.

Also, we live in a very well populated area of the city. There are trees around of course, but no heavily wooded areas. (Just trying to think of any info that might help identify them)

Help if you can based on my description please!!

Thank you for such a detailed description of your bird sighting - I am not an expert, and put this out to our readers - perhaps one of them may know what these birds may have been!

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May 12, 2011
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Wrong time of year for immatureTurkey Vulture
by: Jim

It's likely Cooper's Hawk. They fly through the trees, versus the Red Tailed Hawk, which like the open areas more.

All Vultures should be mature this time of year as they breed here.

The vultures are migrating now through Essex County, and we see several each day going up over the railroad tracks.

We see flocks of thousands of Blue Jays every day also.

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