Black VultureCoragyps atratus

adult
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adults
Doug Wechsler/VIREO
Black Vulture

Description

22-24" (56-61 cm). W. 4'6" (1.4 m). Black, with white patch near each wing tip, conspicuous in flight; head bare, grayish; feet extend beyond the short tail. Flaps its shorter and rounder wings more often and more rapidly than Turkey Vulture.

Voice

Hisses or grunts; seldom heard.

Habitat

Open country, but breeds in light woodlands and thickets.

Range

Resident from western Texas and Arkansas north and east to New Jersey (increasingly seen northward to Vermont and Maine as range is expanding) and south to Florida. Also in American tropics.

Discussion

Black Vultures are scavengers that feed on carrion, but they also take weak, sick, or unprotected young birds and mammals. They soar in a group, alternately flapping and gliding, until one of them discovers carrion, whereupon all the others converge on the find. They are smaller but more aggressive than Turkey Vultures and will drive the latter from a carcass. Both species are often found perched in trees, on fence posts, and on the ground, or flying high overhead, especially on windy days, taking advantage of thermals or updrafts. Unlike Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures depend on their vision to find food.

Nesting

2 white or gray-green eggs, blotched with brown, laid under a bush, in a hollow log, under large rocks, or in a cave.

Similar Species

adult

Turkey Vulture

25-32" (64-81 cm). W. 6' (1.8 m). Eagle-sized blackish bird, usually seen soaring over the countryside. In flight, the long wings are held upward in a wide, shallow V; flight feathers silvery below.

adult

Common Black-Hawk

20-23" (51-58 cm). A stocky black bird of prey with broad wings and a broad white band across the tail; cere and legs yellow, latter visible in flight.

Crested Caracara

20-22" (51-56 cm). W. 4' (1.2 m). A large, long-legged, hawk-like bird with rounded wings.

Vireo

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