Black Vulture

Corgyps atratus

The Black Vulture is a year-round resident in Texas and is common in the southeast United States. They are carrion-feeders and can be found soaring and roosting in groups. Black Vultures can be distinguished from Turkey Vultures by shape and flight. Black Vultures soar with wings almost flat and rarely rock back and forth. They have very stubby tails. Turkey Vultures soar with a dihedral wing shape (imagine a V-shape) and they rock back and forth. Tail is long.

Species information:

Length: 25”
Wingspan: 60”
Weight: 4 lbs

Plumage: Black on back, tail, wings and head. Legs are dark gray. From underneath in flight, wing tips are gray compared to rest of body. Babies have tan down with black head.

Habitat: Found mainly in open areas but can be seen anywhere.

Flight: Often soaring with almost flat wings. When roosting, will open wings to dry off them off before taking flight.

Vocalization: Has no ‘vocal chords’. Only hisses.

Food: Carrion of any kind.

Nesting: Found on the ground, unused buildings or ledges of cliffs. No nests are made, just a flat surface that may be scraped out a little. They usually lay 2 eggs that are incubated for about 33 days. Young fledge in about 8 weeks but depend on parents for another 3 weeks. If babies are found, leave them alone, they are supposed to be on the ground. Vultures are extremely susceptible to ‘imprinting’. If humans attempt to raise them, they will become attached to humans and can’t be released into the wild. Attempting to raise baby birds is against the law unless given state and federal permits.

Defense: Vultures will ‘throw up’ their food if they feel threatened.

Note: Black Vultures do not have a good sense of smell and will follow Turkey Vultures to find food.