Ray the Black Vulture

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Ray the Black Vulture

Cool Facts about Ray the Black Vulture

One-on-one, a Black Vulture can be dominated by the slightly larger Turkey Vulture. But, Black Vultures rarely travel alone. Flocks of Black Vultures can quickly take over a carcass and drive the more solitary Turkey Vultures away.

  • Habitat: The Black Vulture roosts in dense forests with large trees, and searches open spaces for carrion. Black Vultures are more common in flat lowlands than in higher elevations. They often soar higher than Turkey Vultures and gather in large numbers at roadkill and other carrion
  • Food: The Black Vulture feeds mainly on carrion, although it also scavenges fish, vegetable material, and dung. Occasionally, Black Vultures attack small live prey, or in larger groups may attack lambs or newborn pigs. The Black Vulture relies on others in their group to warn them about approaching danger while eating; this allows them to eat particularly quickly
  • Nesting: Instead of building a nest, the Black Vulture lays its eggs on the bare ground of the chosen nest site. Parents incubate the young equally
  • Nest Placement: The Black Vulture lays its eggs in isolated locations with little human disturbance. They find a dark recess in a cave, abandoned building, thicket, pile of rocks, or in a hollow log or tree. A pair of Black Vultures may assure themselves of the site’s isolation by perching nearby for a period of weeks before egg-laying
  • Behavior: The Black Vulture soars on thermals to gain altitude and to cover large distances with little energy expenditure. In this manner the bird spends much of its day searching for food. Black Vultures have a less well-developed sense of smell than Turkey Vultures and rely more on sight than smell to find carrion; this may be why they soar at greater heights than Turkey Vultures. They often aggregate at communal roosts before going out to forage, and these gatherings give unsuccessful or inexperienced vultures a chance to follow others to carcasses. The Black Vulture is monogamous and forms strong social bonds to its kin
  • Conservation: This is the most abundant vulture in the Western Hemisphere, and populations seem to be steady or rising in North America. Black Vultures benefit from human garbage at landfills and dumpsters, but they are also sometimes trapped, shot, and poisoned. They are sensitive to disturbance when nesting, and encroaching development may also threaten their nesting success. As large birds they were vulnerable to egg thinning effects of DDT in the mid-20th century, and as carrion-eaters they are susceptible to lead poisoning from lead shot

Facts source: Cornell University – All About Birds