Black Vulture

Coragyps atratus

Order

FALCONIFORMES

Family

New World Vultures (Cathartidae)

Code 4

BLVU

Code 6

CORATR

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Black Vulture is a scavenger species with a very large range of 21,200,000 square kilometers. It uses a variety of forested, open, and urban habitats in much of the eastern and mid-western United States west to southern Texas and southern Arizona, and south to southern Chile and Argentina. It feeds on carrion, eggs and small animals, and garbage in areas populated by humans. Its only form of vocalization is a grunt or hiss, and typically nests in caves, hollow trees, or on the bare ground. It normally stays within its normal range year-round, but some may migrate short distances in the winter. Populations of the Black Vulture have remained relatively stable, are estimated at 20 million individuals, and this species has a conservation rating of Least Concern.

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BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Black Vulture: Large raptor, black overall, short, featherless neck, pale bill, short and squared tail, long, pale gray legs and feet. Gray-black skin on head and neck is wrinkled. White-tipped wings, held horizontal in flight. Soars on thermals, must flap its wings more often than a Turkey Vulture.

 

Range and Habitat

Black Vulture: Resident species in much of the southeastern states from Texas to New York and Connecticut. It also occurs in southern Arizona, throughout much of Mexico and south into the tropics. Its range is expanding further into the northeast. Its preferred habitats include open country, but they breed in woodlands and thickets.

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Black Vulture SONGS AND CALLS

Black Vulture C1

Grunts and "guff" calls from a small group of birds.

Black Vulture C2

"Guff" calls made when feeding or fighting.

Similar Sounding


Voice Text

Generally silent

INTERESTING FACTS

  • A lone bird is no match for the slightly larger Turkey Vulture. But they are commonly found in flocks which can easily drive away the more solitary Turkey Vulture.
  • The Black Vulture’s scientific name comes from korax, the Greek word for raven; gyps, which means vulture; and from the Latin word atratus, meaning to be clothed in black, as in mourning. The common name, Vulture, comes from the Latin vulturus meaning “tearer.”
  • Unlike Turkey Vultures, this species depends upon its vision to find food.
  • A group of vultures has many collective nouns, including a "cast", "committee", "meal", "vortex", and "wake" of vultures.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

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