|Conservation status||Has expanded range northward in the northeast, but has declined in parts of southeast. Loss of good nest sites (in large tree hollows) may be one cause.|
|Family||New World Vultures|
|Habitat||Open country; avoids higher mountains. Mostly found in flat lowlands, such as coastal plain. Forages over open country, but typically roosts and nests in forest, so is scarce in open plains. In Latin America, often common around cities and towns. Less likely than Turkey Vulture to fly over open water, so absent on many islands (such as Florida Keys).|
Often flies very high when foraging, watching for carrion or watching behavior of other vultures to locate food. May forage in family groups.
2, rarely 1 or 3. Pale gray-green, blotched with brown. Usually one egg of clutch more heavily marked than the other. Incubation is by both sexes, typically 37-41 days. Young: Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. Young remain in nest about 60 days, then may move to higher areas nearby; capable of flight at about 75-80 days. May be partly dependent on parents for several more months.
Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. Young remain in nest about 60 days, then may move to higher areas nearby; capable of flight at about 75-80 days. May be partly dependent on parents for several more months.
Mostly carrion. Feeds on carcasses of dead animals of all sizes. At times also eats eggs of other birds, turtles, lizards. May kill and eat young of some birds, sea turtles; sometimes eats newborn young of larger mammals. Also eats some plant material, such as coconuts and rotting vegetables. Will scavenge scraps of refuse from garbage dumps.
In courtship display, birds may spiral high in air. On ground, male may walk in circles around female, with neck extended, making hissing sounds. Nest site is on ground in thicket, inside hollow log, in large tree cavity up to several feet above ground, or in cave; sometimes in abandoned building. Formerly used hollow tree sites more often (when more were available in southeast). No nest built.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Some withdraw in winter from northern part of range (although increasing numbers now spend the winter in the north, usually with roosts of Turkey Vultures). Strays may wander north of breeding range at any season, especially late summer.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
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Songs and CallsHisses or grunts; seldom heard.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Black Vulture
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Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Black Vulture
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.