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Black Vulture Coragyps atratus

ORDER: Cathartiformes

FAMILY: Cathartidae


Moe (male) and Curly (female) are aptly named Black Vultures loved by all the volunteers. The siblings were found on a local farm and arrived at Cape Fear Raptor Center on May 21, 2017 as babies. Unfortunately, they immediately imprinted and will eventually be education birds.Imprinting happens at a young age in birds and is irreversible. When animals are fed and cared for by their parents and siblings that is how they recognize what they are. When they imprint on humans, they lose fear of us which can be dangerous to them and humans. They will not know how to interact with their own species. Other issues caused by imprinting are: not learning to survive by hunting, not knowing to be wary of predators, finding appropriate areas to live etc. Black Vultures already have a poor sense of smell, so imprinting further decreased their chance of being able to hunt on their own.


With sooty black plumage, a bare black head, and neat white stars under the wingtips, Black Vultures are almost dapper. They also lack a voice box, which limits their vocal abilities to making raspy hisses and grunts. Whereas Turkey Vultures are lanky birds with teetering flight, Black Vultures are compact birds with broad wings, short tails, and powerful wingbeats. The two species often associate. The Black Vulture makes up for its poor sense of smell by following Turkey Vultures to carcasses. Highly social birds with fierce family loyalty, Black Vultures share food with relatives, feeding young for months after they’ve fledged.


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