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Description of the Black Vulture


The Black Vulture has black plumage with pale wingtips that are visible in flight. It has a naked, grayish-black head.  Length: 9 in.  Wingspan: 21 in.

turkey vulture


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Photogrpahs Elaine Wilson and Greg Lavaty.


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Similar to adults but somewhat browner.


A wide variety of open country.




Forages by soaring and by watching for other vultures to descend to a feeding site.


Resident from the southeastern U.S. south to South America. Populations appear to be increasing.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Black Vulture.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Black Vultures often return to the same nest site year after year.

Black Vultures gather in large, communal roosts at which information is exchanged.


Hissing noises are made if disturbed while nesting.


The nest is placed in a hollow log, tree cavity, or cave, though no nest is actually built.

Number: 2.
Color: Greenish with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:

- Young hatch at 37-41 days.
- Young fledge (leave the nest) about 60 days after hatching, but remain with the adults for some time.