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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Black Vulture -- Coragyps atratus


RANGE: Resident from southern Arizona and western Texas to southern Illinois, southern Indiana and New Jersey south to the Gulf Coast, southern Florida, and South America. May retreat from northern range limits in winter.

STATUS: Common, but the population is declining in the southern Atlantic Coast region; range is extending slightly northward.

HABITAT: Nearly ubiquitous except in heavily forested regions. It is found in the southern Great Plains, southeastern pine forests, oak-hickory forests, and intermediate oak-pine forests.

NEST: Does not construct a nest. Frequently lays eggs in hollow bases of trees or stumps, rarely more then 10 to 15 feet above ground, but also on the ground, under dense or thorny vegetation, in cavities of rocks, on the floor of caves, on cliff ledges, or in abandoned buildings.

FOOD: Feeds primarily on carrion from city dumps, sewers, slaughterhouses, and roadkills along highways. Also kills and eats baby herons, domestic ducks, newborn calves, baby lambs, skunks, and opposums; feeds at times on ripe and rotten fruit and vegetables.

REFERENCES: Armistead in Farrand 1983a, Brown and Amadon 1968, Harrison 1979, Heintzelman 1979, Scott et al. 1977, Tate and Tate 1982, Terres 1980.


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