Black Vulture
Coragyps atratus

CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Falconiformes
FAMILY: Cathartidae

SIZE:
22 - 26 inches long; wingspan a little over 4 feet

RANGE:
North America and northern Mexico

HABITAT:
They are residential -- they sit on roof tops and trees until they find an opportunity to seize food. Also wooded areas; inhabit diverse habitats.

DIET:
Wild - Carrion, human refuse, anything, even excrement. Eggs and nestlings of other species and even small reptiles. Occasionally they also attack piglets and lambs.
Zoo - Prepared zoo diet of raw horsemeat for birds of prey; sometimes rodents

DESCRIPTION:

  • Head is black and naked; bare patches of flesh are deeply wrinkled.

  • Iris and feet are brown

  • Male and female look alike.

  • Long, slender beak; caruncles and other fleshy growths develop on the soft cere at the base of the upper mandible.

  • In the wild their feet are often soiled, tail feathers are sometimes broken, and back is covered with dirt.

ADAPTATIONS:

  • Most common of the American vultures.

  • Most social bird of the family and gathers in great flocks of hundreds and sometimes thousands, even in inhabited places at the edge of large cities. They also gather to share meals. Form flocks to seek out suitable sleeping places.

  • They are the least selective of all vultures and will accept anything. Find food exclusively by vision and is also guided to food by observing other members of the species. It is appreciated as a "street cleaner" -- one of nature's clean-up crew.

  • Emits a kind of raucous, wheezing sound when disturbed.

YOUNG/NESTS:

  • 2 eggs, gray to green in color.
  • Nest in natural hollow or at the foot of a tree.
  • Both parents incubate eggs fo 32 - 40 days.
  • Chicks are noisy and aggressive.

STATUS:
CITES App. II; Not threatened; widespread