Black Vulture

Head of a Black Vulture

Head of a Black Vulture

This close up of the head of a Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) shows a not very attractive look, at least to our human eyes. I came across a “wake” of these feeding on a deer carcass along the road. Incidentally, there are many collective terms for groups of vultures. “Wake” refers to a group of vultures feeding on a carcass. “Kettle” refers to a group of vultures in flight. “Committee” refers to a group of vultures resting in trees. There were about 25 Black Vultures in this wake, but almost all of them flew away when I stopped for a photograph. This adult lingered long enough for me to get its picture.

A Black Vulture

A Black Vulture

Here is is photograph of the entire bird (except for a bit of its feet). We have two common species of vultures here in Georgia. The other species is the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), which is a slightly larger bird. Adult Turkey Vultures have red skin on their heads. They are also much less social. If you are driving along and see a wake of vultures feeding amiably together on a carcass, they will almost always be Black Vultures. Turkey Vultures like to feed alone and will drive away competitors of their own species or Black Vultures.

There are quite a few other differences between the two vulture species. Turkey Vultures can find carrion by sight or smell, whereas Black Vulture are solely dependent on eyesight.


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