Black vulture, all-black vulture


The black vulture… Here is a bird that frequents wild spaces as much as the Urban. Perfectly adapted to human activity, this small ebony-colored vulture is readily available for food in supermarket landfills and bins. Heading towardsAmerica where its population thrives.

The black vulture, the New World vulture

The black vulture (Coragyps atratus) is a bird scavenger belonging to the order of accipitriformes and to the family of cathartids which also includes the California condor and the Andean condor. Namely that the cathartids – New World vultures living in America – differ from the Old World vultures (accipitridae family) in particular by their perforated nostrils and the short length of the outer finger of the talons. This bird of prey diurnal measures between 50 and 70 cm high for a maximum wingspan of 1.50 m and a weight of 2 kg.

The black vulture, a silent bird

The black vulture has all black plumage. The exception is the neck and head covered with grayish bare skin with numerous folds and warts. The gray bill has a whitish hooked tip. The lower base of the wings is adorned with a white spot only visible in flight. Its tail is short and square at the end. Its flat legs and modest size are more suited to the walk than when gripping. Like other cathartids, the black vulture does not have a syrinx (the vocal organ of birds) or associated muscles, making it almost mute. It does, however, emit a variety of sounds akin to low-sounding growls and barks.

City and countryside for the black vulture

The black vulture occupies the southern United States, Mexico, Central America and most of South America to the center of the Patagonia. In dense forests, the vulture prefers open spaces open, partially wooded or bushy, as well as meadows, wetlands, marshes and pastures. Favoring low altitudes, the vulture is not afraid of human activity: in agricultural and urban areas, it takes full advantage of garbage dumps, fish farms and slaughterhouses for sustenance.

The black vulture, a scavenger first

The black vulture’s diet plays an important role inecosystem because the animal rids the environment of carrion, sources of pollution and disease. If the bird mainly consumes the carcasses of large animals and small mammals, it also attacks individuals. sick or injured. Very aggressive at mealtime, it firmly dislodges its competitors, including the vulture aura. Hunting in groups, the vulture can kill a new born, lamb or calf, by harassing it: it spurs its eyes, nostrils or tongue with its hooked beak then finishes it when the young prey is exhausted. According to its distribution, the black vulture completes its menu with birds – their eggs and chicks – skunks, possums, sea turtles, fish and small reptiles. Occasionally it also feeds on fruits ripe or rotten.

Black vulture: family first

Like other cathartids, the black vulture appreciates and needs Sun. Perched on a perch, it spreads its wings and exposes all parts of its body to sunlight, including the back puffing up his feathers. After the temperature drops nocturnal, the vulture seeks to warm up and refuel energy before leaving in search of food. This animal gregarious constitute family entities – made up of close and distant relatives – which remain welded all year. The tribes follow social codes by preening each other’s feathers, hunting together during the day, sharing common dormitories at night and defending each other jointly and severally against danger.

A secure nest for the black vulture

During the courtship displays, the couple perform circular flights and chases in the air, before embarking on an impressive spiral descent. The two partners monogamous remain united all life. When the black vulture has found the ideal site to nest, it does not move in immediately: the vulture observes the places for more than a month to ensure their safety. The bird does not build a nest, it settles directly in natural cavities (crevices, caves, hollow tree, stumps, etc.) in height or even on the ground, in a shallow recess.

Attentive parents

The female lays 2 eggs gray-green or pale blue in color, with brown spots or mottling. Father and mother incubate alternately for 38 to 45 days, taking over every 24 hours. When they hatch, the chicks with beige down are fed with the regurgitation of liquid food by their parents. After 15 days, they start to receive food solid then leave the nest between 10 and 14 weeks after birth. Young people stay dependent parents for about 8 months and remain in the family bosom until the next breeding season. Juveniles reach their maturity sexual at the age of 3.

The expanding black vulture

The black vulture does not know of a natural predator. Equipped with a strong capacity ofadaptation, the vulture lives both in wild spaces and in urban areas where it tolerates disturbance during the breeding season and feeds in landfills. Municipality and widespread in its area of ​​distribution, the population is stable, even increasing and extension to the north. Not being considered threatened, the species is classified in the category Least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is not listed in the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The longevity of the black vulture is 16 years old.