Black Vulture

Black Vulture

Kingdom Class Order Family Phylum Species
Animalia Aves Accipitriformes Cathartidae Chordata Coragyps atratus

The Black Vulture, scientifically known as Coragyps atratus, is an intriguing bird renowned for its resilience and adaptability. Belonging to the New World vulture family, this blackbird is commonly observed soaring through the skies across the Americas.

One cannot overlook the Black Vulture’s striking appearance. Its glossy black plumage distinguishes it, while its imposing figure boasts an impressive wingspan reaching up to 5 feet. The bird’s featherless head, colored dark gray and nearly black from a distance, contrasts sharply with its piercing white eyes.

Despite their bad image and reputation as scavengers, Black Vultures play a crucial role in our ecosystem. They serve as nature’s cleanup crew, predominantly feeding on carrion and leftover kills. By consuming decaying organic matter, they help control the spread of diseases and maintain the environment’s delicate balance.

Black Vultures’ strong social structure is another remarkable aspect. These birds often reside in large colonies and can be observed soaring together in sizable groups. Their ability to thrive in such communities highlights the intricate interconnectedness of all life forms. It serves as a testament to the beauty of nature’s harmony.

Black Vulture Physical Characteristics

Black Vulture Physical Characteristics

The black vulture is a large, dark bird with a 4.5 to 5 feet wingspan. The huge, dark body of the black vulture features a naked black head. When viewed from below, the tail is short, and the wings are largely black, with a white patch towards the end of each wing. Its slightly smaller size, white wing patches, and very noticeable bare head – as opposed to the turkey vulture’s red head – distinguish it from the latter in appearance[1].

Black Vultures create a cooling effect during scorching hot days

Black Vultures Create A Cooling Effect During Scorching Hot Days

On hot days, vultures engage in a process known as urohydrosis, urinating on their legs and feet to cool off. Additionally, their urine destroys the bacteria and parasites they may have acquired from walking through carcasses or perching on dead animals.

Black Vultures Environment’s Greatest Friend

Black Vultures Environments Greatest Friend

By devouring dead animals before they rot and spread disease, vultures contribute to environmental cleanup. Because of their disgusting feeding habits, vultures have long been considered dreadful animals. However, we now understand the significant function that these scavenger birds play in “cleaning up” dead animals from our fields and forests.

Black vultures puke to mitigate their body weight and ward off predators

Black Vulture

Vultures vomit to reduce their body weight and improve their ability to take flight. Vomiting is a defense mechanism used by birds to ward off potential predators.

Black vultures are potent detectives

Black Vultures Are Potent Detectives

Researchers are looking into using vultures to help find bodies from crimes as they have special senses and abilities.

Black vultures are faithful to their life partner

Black Vultures Are Faithful To Their Life Partner

Black vultures are monogamous and remain with their partners year-round for many years. They continue to feed their young for up to eight months after fledging and have close social ties to their families for the rest of their lives.

What Do Black Vultures Eat?

What Do Black Vultures Eat?

The Black Vulture consumes several organic matters including but not limited to[¶]:

  • Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).
  • Opossum D’amérique (Didelphis virginiana).
  • Ardilla Zorra (Sciurus niger).
  • Cerf De Virginie (Odocoileus virginianus).
  • Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).
  • Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)
  • Tree squirrels (Sciurus)
  • Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor).
  • Armadillo Nueve Bandas (Dasypus novemcinctus).
  • Pig (Sus scrofa)
  • Domestic Cat (Felis catus).
  • Aligator Americano (Alligator mississippiensis).
  • Poisson Épineux (Actinopterygii)
  • Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)
  • Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea).
  • Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata).
  • Mamífero (Mammalia)
  • Domestic Pig (Sus scrofa domesticus).
  • Jacare (Caiman yacare)
  • Longnose Stingray (Hypanus guttatus).
  • Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
  • Aligator Americano (Alligator)
  • Vertebrado (Vertebrata)
  • Terrapins (Testudines)
  • Grande Aigrette (Ardea alba).
  • Aurochs (Bos taurus)
  • African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis).
  • Coyote (Canis latrans)
  • African Wild Ass (Equus africanus).
  • Mouffette Rayée (Mephitis mephitis).
  • Peccaries (Tayassuidae)
  • Domestic Sheep (Ovis aries).
  • Dindon Sauvage (Meleagris gallopavo).
  • Coq Bankiva (Gallus gallus).
  • Groundhog (Marmota monax)

What Eats Black Vultures?

What Eats Black Vultures?

Águila Cabeza Blancas (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) predate Black Vultures[§].

Suggested Reading:

What Do Eagles Eat?

What Do Eagles Eat?

Eagles are powerful birds with sharp beaks. Explore what do eagles eat, detailed eagles diet by types, how do eagles hunt, how often eagles eat & more here.

More Black Birds

Suggested Reading: What Do Groundhogs Eat?

Cite This Page

APA7MLA8Chicago (2024, April 12). Black Vulture. Bio Explorer. "Black Vulture" Bio Explorer, 12 April 2024, "Black Vulture" Bio Explorer, April 12 2024.
Key References
  • [1]“Black Vulture | Missouri Department of Conservation”. Accessed June 10, 2023. Link.
  • [¶] – Del Risco, A.A., Montoya, Á.M., García, V. et al. Data synthesis and dynamic visualization converge into a comprehensive biotic interaction network: a case study of the urban and rural areas of Bogotá D.C.. Urban Ecosyst (2021). Navarro, J.C. (2015) Detección de bacterias productoras de compuestos volátiles asociadas a flores de fresa (Fragaria x ananassa) como posibles atrayentes de abejas polinizadoras (Apis mellifera). B. Sc. Tesis. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá D.C.
  • [¶] – Bello, C., Galetti, M., Montan, D., Pizo, M. A., Mariguela, T. C., Culot, L., Bufalo, F., Labecca, F., Pedrosa, F., Constantini, R., Emer, C., Silva, W. R., da Silva, F. R., Ovaskainen, O. and Jordano, P. (2017), Atlantic frugivory: a plant-frugivore interaction data set for the Atlantic Forest. Ecology, 98: 1729. doi:10.1002/ecy.1818. doi:10.1002/ecy.1818
  • [¶] – hurlbertlab/dietdatabaseBuckley, N. J. 1996. Food finding and the influence of information, local enhancement, and communal roosting on foraging success of North American vultures. Auk 113:473-488.
  • [¶] – hurlbertlab/dietdatabaseColeman, J. S. and J. D. Fraser. 1987. Food habits of Black and Turkey vultures in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Journal of Wildlife Management 51:733-739.
  • [§] – hurlbertlab/dietdatabaseCline, K.W. and W.S. Clark. 1981. Chesapeake Bay Bald Eagle Banding Project, 1981 report and five year summary. National Wildlife Federation Raptor Information Center.


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