Home » Birds » Black Vulture

Black Vulture

Scientific name: Coragyps atratus

Its shiny black feathers, white-tipped wings, short tail and compact body distinguish it from other birds of the same size.  Up close, you would notice its naked featherless head. This is an adaptation which allows it to keep “clean” while eating a diet of carrion (dead animals). They lack a voice box, so are relatively silent compared to other birds.

While it is the most common vulture in the western hemisphere, locally the turkey vulture is more common.

Photos are courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation

©some credit


2.6 to 4.3 pounds


25 inches

click to flip



Road-kill, carrion, contents of dumpsters


These birds congregate near potential food sources. They roost together in trees. They may also be seen flying high gliding along on thermal currents.

Life Cycle

These birds stay together in family groups and are quite social. They are long-lived (up to 25 years) and stay in monogamous pairs. They share food among themselves and continue to feed their offspring even after they have fled the nest.


These birds stay here year round.

Ecosystem Connections

Nature’s clean up crew! Vultures are an important part of our environment. By eating dead animals, they prevent the spread of disease and recycle nutrients.

Fun Facts

The black vulture has a poor sense of smell.  When they see a turkey vulture has found food, they join in.

Similar Species

The turkey vulture has a similar appearance and is more common. See photos below for the differences.

More on Birds in Lewisboro