The Black Vulture, along with the Turkey Vulture, belongs to the New World Vulture or Condor family. Other members of this family include species like the King Vulture, Andean Condor, California Condor, and the two Yellow-headed Vultures - the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture and the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture.
The fact that Black Vulture has been enlisted as a 'Least Concern' species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is bound to come as a pleasant surprise for many people, especially because several vulture species are battling for their very survival on the planet.
The survival of Black Vulture largely depends on its peculiar adaptation skills, and these adaptations are just a part of some amazing facts about this species which we will be covering here.
Interesting Facts about Black Vultures
With a length of 22-27 in, weight ranging between 3-6 lbs and a wingspan of 1.5 meters, the Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) is by no means the largest of the vulture species inhabiting the planet. However, it is undoubtedly one of the most aggressive species of them all.
Even though it is no match for the Turkey Vulture when it comes to one on one face off, a group of Black Vultures can attack Turkey Vultures feeding on a carcass and make them flee. As in case of several other vulture species, even the Black Vulture is known to feed on a decomposing carcass, and get away with it without suffering from any health issues.
Given are more of such Black Vulture facts which will give you an insight into the life of this scavenger species.
- The scientific name of the Black Vulture Coragyps atratus is derived from the combination of Greek words korax and gyps meaning 'raven' and 'vulture' respectively, and the Latin word atratus meaning 'to be in black'.
- As mentioned earlier, Black Vultures belong to the New World Vulture family; the members of which are more closely related to storks than hawks as in case of other vulture species.
- This species is quite aggressive in nature, especially when they are feeding; to an extent that other vulture species as well as animals, like the hyena, prefer to stay away from them when they are feeding in large groups.
- A pair of Black Vultures doesn't just stay together for their entire life, but also use the same nesting site for several years.
- When threatened, a Black Vulture regurgitates (i.e. vomit) partially digested food, along with some powerful stomach acids which produce a foul smell, to deter the predator.
- As with Turkey Vultures, even Black Vultures practice 'urohidrosis' - wherein they urinate on their own legs to facilitate evaporative cooling during the summer season.
- Black Vultures have a scant layer of feathers on their head, that gives them their typical bald appearance, which ensures that pieces of flesh don't stick onto their head and cause bacterial infections when they are feeding on decomposing carcasses.
- Unlike the Turkey Vulture, Black Vultures are not equipped with a highly-developed sense of smell. Instead they resort to their vision, not to track dead carcasses, but to track and follow Turkey Vultures to dead carcasses. This behavioral adaptation helps them exploit the superior scent-tracking skills of Turkey Vultures for their own benefit.
The Black Vulture is one of the very few species of vulture which boasts of being benefited from human settlements in its native habitat. The species prefers regions with human settlements over forested regions devoid of humans.
Their ability to survive alongside humans is undoubtedly one of the most useful behavioral adaptations in Black Vultures, and plays a crucial role in the fact that this bird is found in abundance in the world today.
Recent trends have also revealed that the range of this species is expanding, and now it also sighted in northern United States - most likely as a result of changing climate which is making higher latitudes relatively warm.