FYI, pretty much all birds will eat carrion if they come across it.
I've seen gangs of robins, for example, pecking vigorously at road kill
in front of my house.
Also, what looks black from a distance is likely to be dark brown seen
closer up or in better light, so when thinking about what this bird
might be, don't stick to black birds. Some Western Red-tails can indeed
be a very dark black-brown, and they do show up in VT from time to time.
A Golden Eagle is the only NA raptor I know of that would be capable of
taking down a calf, or would be inclined to try, although with birds,
you can never say never. The successful ones are generally
opportunistic. Fish-eating Osprey will happily take squirrels when the
opportunity presents itself.
I'm stumped by the white patches on what I interpret to mean the
primaries, too. I have no guesses, unless this is some kind of
bilateral leucistic feathers.
On 1/9/2017 1:23 PM, Jason Hill wrote:
> I like the way Taj is thinking!!! You also might consider the abieticola
> subspecies of the Red-tailed Hawk. They can appear really dark brown/black
> at times, with a white throat and breast and white undertail coverts. No
> white on the wings though.This subspecies, the northern Red-tailed Hawk, is
> larger than the average Red-tailed Hawk as well. Here are some eBird
> checklists with photos by raptor bander Bill Chambers. Although Red-tailed
> Hawks have been observed eating carrion, could it be that the dead animal
> is in fact something it killed? After 30 minutes the carcass could be
> splayed out and such, increasing the apparent size of the prey item.
> All the best and thanks for the mystery.
> On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 1:14 PM, Taj Schottland <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> This is a long shot, but have you considered Crested Caracara? It's only a
>> matter of time before this species is seen in VT. And they're well known
>> for feeding on dead carcasses.
>> On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 12:42 PM, Marcia Baker <
>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> There is a large raptor in the back field about 150 yards from me in
>>> Brownsville. It has been feasting on a dead animal, possibly a newborn
>>> calf, for the past hour. It is just smaller than the wild turkeys that
>>> have been parading by the area. It has a rounded black head, a Snow
>>> throat and breast down to a dark band, and then it is white under the
>>> tail. There is also a white patch on the middle bottom of the wing. The
>>> rest of the bird is black. I can see no bands on the tail, but there may
>>> be some. I can't find anything in Peterson or Sibley that is an exact
>>> match. Any help would be very much appreciated.
>>> Marcia Baker in Brownsville, aka West Windsor
>>> Sent from my iPad
>>>> On Jan 8, 2017, at 7:52 PM, Evergreen Erb <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Yesterday (Saturday), on an all day, leisurely drive from Jericho down
>>> to Shoreham and back, my daughter Isis, friend Raven Davis, and I tallied
>>> an impressive number of raptors. We did not double count if we traveled
>>> any of the roads we had been on before that day. Here’s what we saw….all
>>> so wonderful! Obviously we saw other birds too; these are just the
>>>> 47 Red-tailed Hawks
>>>> 26 Rough-legged Hawks
>>>> 7 Northern Harriers
>>>> 8 Ravens
>>>> 2 Merlins
>>>> Alas, no Eagles or Peregrines (although we had seen Peregrines on one
>>> the same roads last week). It was a fun day to be out in our beautiful
>>> state. Filled with gratitude to live in Vermont,
>>>> Evergreen Erb of Jericho
>> Taj Schottland
>> Coastal Adaptation Specialist
>> National Wildlife Federation
>> CELL: 802-258-1200
>> EMAIL: [log in to unmask]