Black Vulture

Coragyps atratus

  • Classification: Bird
  • Lifespan in Captivity: 25yrs
  • Lifespan in the Wild: 10-15yrs
  • Wingspan: 4.5ft
  • Weight: 3.5-6lbs
  • Range: Southeast United States, Central America, South America
  • Habitat: Open lowland grasslands, swamp interspersed with forest
    • Diet in the Wild: carrion, vulnerable mammals, human garbage
    • Diet at Wildlife Images: rodents, venison, donated meats

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Black vultures are the most numerous vulture in the Western Hemisphere. Black vultures have a less-developed sense of smell than turkey vultures and rely more on their sight. Unlike the turkey vulture, it will occasionally attack live prey, mobbing weakened animals. In the United States, it is only found in the American South, and should not be confused with the European black vulture, which belongs to the Old World Vulture family and is not related to New World carrion birds. The black vulture soars on thermals to gain altitude and to cover large distances with little energy expenditure, spending most of its day searching for food.

Description: Large-bodied; broad, rounded wings; all black with white patches on underside of wingtips; bare, black head; narrow, hooked beak

Behavior: 

  • Very social birds with family loyalty 
  • Soar in flocks
  • Alternating strong wingbeats and short glides
  • Follow turkey vultures (with their well-developed sense of smell) to food
  • Make only raspy hisses and grunts due to not having a voice box
  • Monogamous

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