Vultures Spotted Around Arlington

by ARLnow.com March 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm 6,486 61 Comments

It seems that a small flock of vultures has taken up temporary residence in Arlington over the past week.

The birds of prey have been spotted around the county, often with an eager eye trained on a potential meal.

“A raccoon got smushed by a car on the street by my house Sunday and when I drove down the street, I saw about 4 vultures gathered around the carcass, trying to get at it between cars streaming down the street,” said Dana M., a Lyon Park resident, in an email. “Thought this was a weird sight to see in urban Arlington. I’ve seen raccoon, possums, foxes, and hawks, but never a vulture.”

In another instance, a county employee spotted two vultures casually hanging out on a deck outside the Department of Human Services building at Sequoia Plaza.

A third possible vulture spotting happened amid the high rises of Ballston.

Photos courtesy of Dana M., @BrianKal and Anonymous

  • FunnyMunny

    These always arrive just ahead of Romney…

  • lo

    um…of course there are vultures in Arlington! There always have been.

    • Skeptical

      No kidding. I spotted one just hanging out on the side of Wilson Boulevard last winter, waiting for something to drop dead.

  • brendan


    aren’t vultures year round residents here?

    • Jim Webster

      No big deal here. Turkey vultures were s common sight from my balcony in a Rosslyn high-rise throughout the 90s.

  • novasteve

    About a year or two ago I saw some vultures on Washington BLVD right before that shell station by some garbage bins near some house

  • MC 703

    This is silly. There are always vultures around Arlington, circling roadkill or a drowned animal in Donaldson Run.

    There are also always bald eagles around.

    • drax

      Here’s a pic of another vulture in Arlington:


      • Quoth the Raven

        Good to see that yesterday’s discussion about personal attacks really sank in! Good work!

      • FunnyMunny

        Here’s a fun game. See if you can find Callista in those photos. You might not notice at first, she kinda blends in with everyone else.

        • Tabs

          Reminds of that embarrassing yellow Buick my mom had when I was in high school.

  • DSS10

    They are scavengers not birds of prey, they eat carrion not live prey.

  • SomeGuy

    As the rooftop bars open for the season, seeing cougars “casually hanging out on a deck” will also be a frequent occurrence.

    • drax

      What took you so long?

    • nunya


  • Modwop

    I recall that I saw some of these same birds around the same time last year, particularly in the Virginia Square area. They were swooping around between the Ballston Place and Tower Villas buildings, occasionally settling on the balcony railings.

    • Garden City

      I just had a hawk land on the deck railing and stay for a few minutes. More more picturesque than a vulture.

      • PUP

        i just had a dozen doves land on my deck and hold a banner that said “god bless you” for like 20 minutes.

        • Josh S

          I just took a hot bath for like 30 minutes. It was like heaven. I dreamed of peacocks.

          • Tabs

            I dream of large ones.

  • HJ

    It is probably the Arlington County Board.

    • SarcasticJane

      Vultures are all the same color. The Arlington County Board is a “United Colors of Benetton” advertisement.

  • ArlForester

    Has anyone collected their meals tax yet?

  • Zelora

    We saw one of these in our back yard this winter (Clarendon). I believe this kind is called the turkey vulture.

  • Ashton Height Bob

    Dear Dana M., a Lyon Park resident:

    Just tilt your head back a little, so that your eyes scan up into the sky. The vultures are always here.

    ArlNow — seriously?

    • Tre

      Vultures in Arlington is news to me. People offended by lighthearted articles is not news to me.

  • First

    The board must be looking to loan out some more money for somebody to buy a property and build affordable housing.

  • JamesE

    They can also be spotted inside Union Jacks at 2 am.

    • bred

      I think that they may be cougars!

      • Curious George

        Not cougars.

        A vulture is a cougar 20 years past its prime that still likes the hunt.

        Heard that someplace so can’t take credit.

  • CW

    A raccoon got run over in front of the person’s house and they are surprised that a carrion eater was attracted to it? And this is our educated population living in their million dollar Lyon Park homes?

    • First

      It makes you wonder how they are going to handle something as simple as a domesticated hen. They will probably have to hire a nanny from South America to look after its needs.

  • well I’ve lived here for a zillion years and have never seen vultures. Odd faces indeed- seem to be wearing a mask. Love how they look into windows – looking for food or the latest from the spring lines.

    I am surprised to see how, even with pleasant stories that should not attract criticism, folks still find the need to be harsh and critical. Why must some people always complain and correct? Chill folks – this is just a nice story about vultures!!!

    • Arlingtonian

      +1. I like seeing stories like this. Nice pix too.

    • drax

      They’re usually soaring around in the air, sometimes in circles (yeah, just like they do when you’re dying in the desert). On the ground you might mistake them for a crow if you don’t look closely.

    • RockLobster

      I agree. They are delicious!

    • P. Monroe

      Agreed. Simmer down, people.

  • bred

    This seems about right, “In another instance, a county employee spotted two vultures casually hanging out on a deck outside the Department of Human Services building at Sequoia Plaza.” Do these people at DHS do anything except run a job fair where you can’t submit a resume?

    • drax

      Right, because you never look out the window at work.

      Are you at work right now by any chance?

  • PUP

    vultures, cool.

  • Arlingtonian

    Our future Senator Hank the Cat will be happy to do something about this. Although they are probably bigger than he is.

  • Undereducated

    These birds are black vultures (Coragyps atratus) also known as the American Black Vulture, It has a feathered black head. Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) can be identified by their bald red heads. Both species are relatively common in Arlington. Another confusing pair of related birds are the American crow and the fish crow. Both are also found in Arlington. The American crow has the easily recognized crow “caw, caw” call whereas the fish crow has a distinctive uh-uh call. If you stop, look and listen, you will soon add both of these bird species to your life list.

    • jan


    • arlkitten

      +1 for the info, thanks!

    • Lloyd

      I would rather accelerate, steer and continue, and add these birds to the grille of my SUV.

  • told you so

    They’re coming for the homeless shelter..That’s why they’re at the Human Services building! KalishnaKev was right!

    • drax

      Wonder if they’re veterans.

  • Matt in Lyon Park

    At first I thought this was an article about the county board when I read the headline.

    • OldTimer

      … or my four ex-wives.


    Who is the county employee who took the time to snap photos of these birds? How dare he do that on the clock, while getting paid with our money?

    I demand a reckoning!!

  • Courthouse Diva

    Wonder how Arlington County will tax them. I’m sure they’ll figure out a way. Maybe via the food and entertainment tax — they are supping in Arlington!

  • ElmoL

    Funny that these two were related “Spotted” posts:

    Spotted: Arlington Tax Enforcers on the Prowl December 20, 2011

    Spotted in Arlington: Ovie’s New Girlfriend December 1, 2011

  • Patricia Halsey

    youtube – Pet buzzards, they are noted to be scavengers and not birds of prey.


  • Tippi Hedren

    Time to move again. Damn birds.

  • SouthArlJD

    They’ve been hanging around Arlington Courthouse for years. You should see how freaked out defendants awaiting sentencing can get at the sight of a turkey vulture staring in the window and doing that weird thing they do with their wings.

  • Patricia Halsey
  • John Andre

    These look like the more southerly black vultures. Turkey vultures generally have a red head and neck.

  • Burger

    Must have heard about the new “chicken” initiative and are getting in line early.

  • Civic Activist

    Happy to see the vultures. However, I hope they are joined by something bigger which will eat the live rats and not die after eating them like our neighborhood fox did.


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