Bird: Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

Height: 25"

Description: Large black bird, head bare of feathers with wrinkled black skin. The beak and legs are light. In flight, the black vulture shows white wing tips (primaries) that are absent on the similar turkey vulture. The wings of the black vulture are shorter and broader than those of the turkey vulture and its flight includes periodic flaps. Tail is short and rounded.

Voice: Normally silent; some hisses and grunts when threatened at nest, or competing for food.

Black Vulture 1
Image courtesy Al Liberman

Feeding: Black Vultures are scavengers. They soar and search for carcasses of birds, mammals and fish; will eat dying animals before they are dead. Unlike the turkey vulture which follows the scent of decaying carrion, the Black Vulture finds food on sight alone. They sometimes fly above flocks of turkey vultures and follow them to prey.

Behavior at Wakodahatchee: Black vultures are more aggressive than Turkey Vultures. This may be a result of the fact that they are less efficient at finding carrion. The difference is the Black Vulture lacks the Turkey Vulture's sensitive sense of smell. Black Vultures often travel in groups, depending on several sets of eyes to find food. They may also follow Turkey Vultures and aggressively steal carrion. Black Vultures are nest raiders and will take unprotected young chicks.

Black Vulture 2
Image courtesy Al Liberman

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