American Black Vulture

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American Black Vulture

An American Black Vulture at
Flamingo, Florida
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Accipitriformes
Family:Cathartidae
Genus:Coragyps
Species:C. atratus
Binomial name
Coragyps atratus
(Bechstein, 1793)

A common New World vulture, the American Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus, tends to have a more southerly distribution than its compatriot, the Turkey Vulture, which breeds well into Canada.

These birds are found in open regions in the southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America and South America. They are usually permanent residents.

These are very large birds of prey at 65cm length and with a 1.5m wingspan. Their plumage is mainly glossy black; they have broad wings with white tips, a short tail and a featherless greyish head.

Despite the similar name and appearance, this species is unrelated to Eurasian Black Vulture. The latter species is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae (which includes eagles, hawks, kites and harriers), whereas the American species is a New World vulture in the family Cathartidae. It is the only member of the genus Coragyps (Saint-Hilaire, 1853).

The female lays 2 or 3 eggs on the ground in a wooded area or in a hollow log or other cavity. Both parents incubate and feed the young, regurgitating food at the nest site.

They mainly eat carrion, but also eggs and decomposing plant material. They may scavenge at garbage dumps and sometimes kill young animals. These birds on occasion forage in groups. They soar high when searching for food, holding their wings flat when gliding.

They have become scarce in some areas due to lack of suitable nesting habitat.

In the United States, this species receives special legal protections as covered under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

See also

External Links

nl:Zwarte gier

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