Our Mission: The Mattabeseck Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society, is committed to environmental leadership and education for the benefit of the community and the earth's biodiversity.

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Natural History—Information Pages

Black Vulture (left); Turkey Vulture (right)

comparing vultures

Black Vulture or Turkey Vulture?

In flight, watch for a wobbling, or tilting motion unique to turkey vultures. Black vultures are too heavy to wobble; they just glide on wings held flat.

Black vultures lack the strong V-shape dihedral wing outline of turkey vultures, and they punctuate soaring glides with strong wing flaps. Their motion is hurried, as if they have to work at staying aloft. In contrast, turkey vultures have slower, deeper wing beats, and they flap less frequently.

From below, its easy to distinguish the short, blunt tails of black vultures from the rudderlike tails of turkey vultures. Black vultures’ underwings sport a silvery white patch at the ends, whereas turkey vultures display a broad, gray, trailing edge along the length of each wing. Sitting, a black vulture’s gray head and longer bill are quite different from its cousin’s blunter bill and hamburger-red head. And getting close is sometimes no problem at all.

from T. Edward Nickens, audubonmagazine.org

Lamsilis Cariosa mussel

Yellow Lampmussel

In Summer 2006 we were honored to be the first people in 80 years to find the Yellow Lampmussel in Connecticut. The specimen was photographed and carefully returned to its habitat, and the photos were sent to the DEP for confirmation. The mussel was a gravid female, just about to set seed.

The mussel (not the same individual) was found again by the DEP mussel survey team (3 specimens in this same area). And the species was found by us again twice in summer of 2007, in that same area. The find was important because it restored this species to the Endangered Species list (extirpated species are removed from that list).

In 2014, 24 living individuals were counted and photographed in one afternoon in the same area.

In 2017, a the shell of a recently-deceased Yellow Lampmussel was found in Cromwell.

Tidewater Mucket

Tidewater Mucket

The Tidewater Mucket is a species of special concern in Connecticut. It is prevalent in the Connecticut River though. The nacre inside the shells an be quite vibrant pinks, from salmon pinks to purple-pink. The shells are inflated (fat) and reasonably easy to identify. Young live individuals can be mistaken for Yellow Lampmussels at first glance. The Muckets, however, are considerably deeper in color.

Eastern Pond Mussel

Eastern Pond Mussel

These mussels are very distinctive in shape with a long pointed posterior end. The nacre can be irridescent lavendar in freshly killed shells. This species is also on the Special Concern list. It is usually not present in large numbers, however in certain localities it can be quite prevalent.


Lower Connecticut River Common Mussels

Spring Wildflowers at Guiffrida Park