The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) is a large bird of prey that is found throughout much of the Americas. This species is easily identified by its distinctive all-black plumage and featherless, wrinkled head. Black Vultures are relatively small compared to other vulture species, typically measuring between 25-32 inches in length and weighing between 2-5 pounds.
In addition to their unique appearance, Black Vultures can also be distinguished by their distinctive flight pattern. Unlike other vulture species, which soar on thermals to conserve energy, Black Vultures flap their wings vigorously to stay aloft. This makes them easily recognizable in flight, as they appear to be “flapping” rather than soaring.
Black Vultures are non-migratory, and can be found throughout much of their range year-round. They are most commonly found in southern and eastern United States, as well as Central and South America. However, they have been known to expand their range northward during the summer months, and can occasionally be seen as far north as Canada.
Although Black Vultures primarily feed on carrion, they are also known to hunt live prey, including small mammals, reptiles, and birds. They are often seen in large groups, and are known for their aggressive feeding behavior. When feeding on a carcass, Black Vultures will often jostle for position and use their strong beaks to tear apart the flesh.
Despite their somewhat intimidating appearance and feeding behavior, Black Vultures play an important ecological role by cleaning up dead and decaying animals. They also help to prevent the spread of disease by consuming carcasses before they have a chance to decompose and potentially contaminate the surrounding environment.