Black Vulture

Coragyps atratus

Scientific Name

Black Vulture:  
Coragyps atratus

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

The black vulture can found in Southern North America and throughout South America.

Natural Habitat

Black vultures can be found in open areas within forested landscapes. They typically nest in wooded areas and soar above open areas to seek their food.

Physical Characteristics

  • The tail is very short and rounded. They have small, bare heads and narrow but strongly hooked bills. These birds are uniform black except for white patches or “stars” on the underside of their wingtips (this can be hard to see in strong light or from far away). The bare skin of the head is black.

Quick Facts

  1. In the U.S., black vultures are outnumbered by their red-headed relatives, Turkey Vultures, but they have a huge range and are the most numerous vulture in the Western Hemisphere.

  2. Black Vultures lack a voice box and so their vocal abilities are limited to making raspy hisses and grunts.

  3. Although Black Vultures and their relatives live only in North and South America, the oldest fossils from this group—at least 34 million years old—were found in Europe.


Education Department

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The Black Vulture is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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Black vultures feed almost exclusively on carrion. Their carrion diet includes feral hogs, poultry, cattle, donkeys, raccoons, coyotes, opossums, striped skunks, and armadillos.