Field Station

The University of Mississippi

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

The black vulture is one of the larger bird residents of the Field Station with a length of 56–74 cm (22–29 in) and a wingspan of 1.33–1.67 m (52–66 in). Its feathers are primarily black. The head and neck are featherless and the skin a very wrinkled dark gray.  Interestingly the nostrils of the black vulture are not divided by a septum, so that you can see through the beak.  The wings are broad but relatively short. The bases of the wing feathers are white, producing a white patch on the underside of the wing’s edge. The tail is short and square.  Because the wings are shorter that most vultures the black vulture flaps its wings while soaring more than others. The black vulture lays its eggs on the ground in wooded areas, caves, or a hollow log, typically less than 3 m (9.8 ft) off the ground. Our vulture chick see in the phot was found in an old camper trailer on the Field Station.  Because it lacks a syrinx, the black vulture can’t sing like other birds.  It is generally silent, but can make hisses and grunts when agitated or while feeding.




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