Black Vulture

(Coragyps atratus)

FUN FACT

Vultures lack strong claws or other means of defending themselves from threats, so they have a strange means of scaring away predators -- they vomit!

Black vultures are a common and widespread species, ranging from the southern U.S. through Central and South America.  They have a featherless, grey head, silvery patches near the tips of their wings, primarily black plumage, and a fairly short tail.  Like all vultures, they play an important role in the environment by eating carrion, essentially serving as a natural clean-up crew.  Black vultures are fairly social and can sometimes be seen traveling or roosting in large flocks.  Although they are slightly smaller than the turkey vulture, another common species, black vultures are often capable of driving off competition because of their numbers.

Distribution

Southeastern United States into South America

Habitat

Open country wherever they can find carrion.

Diet

Carrion of all kinds, but but have also been known to eat the eggs of other birds.

Breeding

Black vultures do not construct a nest, and will instead lay their eggs on the ground under a rock ledge, thicket, log, or other shelter. The generally lay 2 eggs per clutch, and both parents incubate over a period of roughly 40 days. Chicks hatch covered in buff colored down feathers and do not leave the nest until 14 weeks of age.

Status

Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

See Sarabi the black vulture during special presentations only. This bird is not currently on exhibit.