Birds Living by Richard Stade - RStade

Black Vulture – Soaring

Coragyps atratus

April – Texas

L=25”...... WS=59”....... WT=4.4 lb Order: Ciconiiformes (Herons, Ibises, Storks, New World Vultures, Allies) Family: Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

Black Vultures cannot find food by smell and so are not as adept at finding dead animals as the Turkey Vulture. Where their habitats overlap, which is a very broad area in the southern half of the U.S., Black Vultures will follow Turkey Vultures to find food. Then, even though they are slightly smaller, the Black Vultures will dominate the Turkey Vultures and take the food. Turkey Vultures compensate for this by hunting for small animals that can be eaten quickly. Black Vultures have a higher wing loading (total body weight to wing area) and thus require stronger thermals to soar and have to flap their wings more frequently, a very energy intensive action. Consequently, Black Vultures have to wait later in the day to start hunting and they cannot live as far north as Turkey Vultures who live over the entire continental U.S. and into Canada.