Coragyps atratus - (Bechstein, 1793)
Black Vulture
Other English Common Names: black vulture
Other Common Names: Urubu-Preto
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Coragyps atratus (Bechstein, 1793) (TSN 175272)
French Common Names: Urubu noir
Spanish Common Names: Zopilote Común, Zamuro Negro, Jote Cabeza Negra
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104530
Element Code: ABNKA01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 11488

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Cathartiformes Cathartidae Coragyps
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Coragyps atratus
Taxonomic Comments: Transferred to Ciconiiformes (AOU 1998) but is now tentatively returned to the order Falconiformes after re-evaluation of the reasons for the earlier change. Further, some genetic studies (Cracraft et al. 2004, Fain and Houde 2004, Ericson et al. 2006) have shown that the New World vultures are not closely related to the storks, although their precise phylogenetic relationship to the Falconiformes is yet undetermined (AOU 2007).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 22Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (05Jan1997)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S4B), Arizona (S1S2), Arkansas (S4), Delaware (S3B), District of Columbia (S1), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S3), Indiana (S3), Kentucky (S4B,S3S4N), Louisiana (S5), Maryland (S4B,S4N), Massachusetts (S1B,S2N), Mississippi (S4B), Missouri (S3), New Jersey (S5B,S5N), New York (S3B), North Carolina (S4), Ohio (S2), Oklahoma (S2B), Pennsylvania (S4B), Rhode Island (SNR), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S4B), Texas (S5B), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (S4), West Virginia (S3B,S4N)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDS: southern Arizona, Chihuahua, Texas, eastern Oklahoma, Missouri, southern Indiana, central Ohio, south-central Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey south to Gulf Coast and southern Florida, and throughout Middle America and South America. Has been extending range northward in the eastern U.S. since the 1950s. NORTHERN WINTER: in the U.S., winters mainly in the south-central and southeastern states, with the highest densities in parts of Texas, Alabama, and Georgia, and to a lesser degree in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida (Root 1988). WANDERS north to southern Canada.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: According to Ehrlich et al. (1992), jeopardized by widespread eggshell thinning resulting from the ingestion of contaminated food.

Short-term Trend Comments: Declines were noted recently in the southeastern U.S. and Mexico (Wilbur 1983).

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: Has been extending range northward in the eastern U.S. since the 1950s.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: southern Arizona, Chihuahua, Texas, eastern Oklahoma, Missouri, southern Indiana, central Ohio, south-central Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey south to Gulf Coast and southern Florida, and throughout Middle America and South America. Has been extending range northward in the eastern U.S. since the 1950s. NORTHERN WINTER: in the U.S., winters mainly in the south-central and southeastern states, with the highest densities in parts of Texas, Alabama, and Georgia, and to a lesser degree in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida (Root 1988). WANDERS north to southern Canada.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WV

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WWF-US, 2000


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Pima (04019)*
DE Kent (10001), New Castle (10003), Sussex (10005)
IN Clark (18019), Crawford (18025), Harrison (18061), Jackson (18071), Jefferson (18077), Jennings (18079), Lawrence (18093), Monroe (18105), Orange (18117), Owen (18119)*, Putnam (18133), Ripley (18137)
MO Christian (29043), Douglas (29067), Lawrence (29109), Stone (29209), Taney (29213), Wayne (29223)
MS Adams (28001)*, Claiborne (28021)*, Grenada (28043), Hinds (28049)*, Lowndes (28087)*, Montgomery (28097), Noxubee (28103)*, Oktibbeha (28105)*
OH Adams (39001), Brown (39015), Hocking (39073), Knox (39083), Preble (39135)
OK Le Flore (40079), Murray (40099)
PA Adams (42001), Berks (42011), Chester (42029), Lancaster (42071), Montgomery (42091), Perry (42099), York (42133)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Schuylkill (02040203)+, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Broadkill-Smyrna (02040207)+, Chincoteague (02040303)+, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+, Lower Susquehanna (02050306)+, Choptank (02060005)+, Monocacy (02070009)+, Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+
03 Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub (03160106)+*, Noxubee (03160108)+*
05 Hocking (05030204)+, Walhonding (05040003)+, Lower Scioto (05060002)+, Lower Great Miami (05080002)+, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+, Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+, Lower White (05120202)+*, Eel (05120203)+, Muscatatuck (05120207)+, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+, Patoka (05120209)+, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+
08 Lower St. Francis (08020203)+, Yalobusha (08030205)+, Lower Mississippi-Natchez (08060100)+*, Lower Big Black (08060202)+*, Bayou Pierre (08060203)+*
11 James (11010002)+, Bull Shoals Lake (11010003)+, North Fork White (11010006)+, Spring (11070207)+, Middle Washita (11130303)+, Mountain Fork (11140108)+
15 Rio Sonoyta (15080102)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: A medium-large bird with blackish plumage, a small grayish unfeathered head, hooked bill, weak talons, short tail, and relatively short, broad wings; in flight, wings show a large white patch at the base of the primaries; average length 64 cm, wingspan 145 cm (NGS 1983).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from the turkey vulture in having conspicuous white patches at the base of the primaries, black (vs. silvery gray) secondaries, a shorter tail, and never a red head. Differs from eagles in smaller head that lacks feathers, smaller overall size, shorter tail, and white areas in plumage confined to base of primaries.
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size usually is 2. Incubation lasts 37-41 days, by both sexes. Young first fly at about 75-80 days, are tended by parents for several months after fledging. May lay replacement clutch 3-4 weeks after first clutch is destroyed. Long-term pair-bond.
Ecology Comments: Forms large communal roosts at night throughout year; immediate family members maintain close contact throughout the year (Rabenold 1986). Average distance between communal roost and feeding site was 6 km in Maryland/Pennsylvania (Coleman and Fraser 1987). Mean summer home range in Maryland/Pennsylvania 15,962 hectares (n=11), 7729 hectares (n=6) in winter, 14,881 hectares (n=5) year-round (Coleman and Fraser 1989).

Human disturbance and canid predation may be significant causes of nest failure in the eastern U.S. (Coleman and Fraser 1989).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Some populations appear to be partly migratory, especially the northernmost ones in the northeastern U.S. and those in Middle America (AOU 1983), though some authors doubt the occurrence of true migration in Central America (Palmer 1988).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Tidal flat/shore
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff, Cropland/hedgerow, Desert, Grassland/herbaceous, Sand/dune, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Fallen log/debris, Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Nearly ubiquitous except in heavily forested regions; more common in lowland than in highland habitats. More abundant toward the coast in eastern North America. Most abundant around human habitation in much of Central and South American range (Palmer 1988).

In Pennsylvania, selected large conifers for mid-winter roost (Wright et al. 1986).

Eggs are laid usually in a thicket or on a cliff ledge, also in cave or other situations (e.g., on bare ground at bottom of stump, in hollow log or tree, among rocks, etc.) (Jackson 1983); also sometimes in high buildings (Lima, Peru) (Palmer 1988). In Maryland/Pennsylvania, nested in areas that were roadless, forested, and undeveloped (Coleman and Fraser 1989).

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore
Food Comments: Eats mostly carrion; sometimes groups kill and eat small vertebrates (sometimes young livestock); major predator of hatchling sea turtles in Costa Rica. May also eat ripe and rotten fruits (e.g., bananas, palm) and vegetables, excrement, garbage, etc. Hunts visually from air; somtimes follows turkey vulture to food.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 69 centimeters
Weight: 2172 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
Help
Management Requirements: See Wallace and Temple (1983) for information on propagation and release.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Help
Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of breeding (including historical); and potential recurring breeding at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs with occupied nests in appropriate habitat. Occurrence includes not only the nest sites, but also the surrounding areas used for feeding during the nesting season.
Mapping Guidance: Occurrences include nesting areas and corresponding same-season foraging areas (if known), regardless of how far apart they are. Map different functional areas as separate polygons if they are not closely adjacent.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance for this highly mobile bird is set such that occurrences are of practical size for conservation purposes; occurrences do not necessarily represent demographically distinct populations. Occurrence separations are based on nest sites; nest sites separated by a gap smaller than the separation distance should be included in the same occurrence. Different occurrences may overlap if their foraging areas overlap.

Individuals share large home range with many others; mean summer home range 15,962 hectares, which approximates to a circle slightly more than 14 kilometers in diameter (Coleman and Fraser 1989).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 14 km
Date: 09Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering birds (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, usually minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance for this highly mobile bird is set such that occurrences are of practical size for conservation purposes; occurrences do not necessarily represent demographically distinct populations, but rather are simply areas with concentrations of wintering birds.

Separation distance is about twice the diameter of an average winter home range of 7729 hectares, which approximates to a circle about 10 kilometers in diameter (Coleman and Fraser 1989).

Date: 09Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 27Dec1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
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  • DICKINSON, MARY B., ED. 1999. FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA, 3RD ED. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY, WASHINGTON, D.C. 480 PP.

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