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Black Vulture
Coragyps atratus

Black Vulture
Jote de Cabeza Negra
Coragyps atratus
Length: 650mm. Sexes alike. Beak grey whitish on apical half and black at the base; iris dark brown; head and bare part of neck dark grey. The plumage is entirely dull black except for the primaries, which are white at their base with black wingtips. Legs grey with a whitish appearance. The young resemble adults but lack the wrinkles on the head and neck; chicks have greyish brown down. Habitat and behaviour: this species may be recognised by its entirely black plumage with a white patch at the base of primaries and short square tail; it soars holding wings horizontally, in a dihedral angle, interspersing glides with quick wing beats. The Black Vulture occurs in large groups that spend the night invariably at the same roosting site, located in forests. During the day, it travels the surrounding areas seeking food, always setting out in small groups that soar high, describing circles, taking advantage of rising air currents. This bird feeds on carrion; when it pinpoints a dead animal it flies in circles while increasing numbers of individuals approach; to feed, it rushes down in groups that crowd over the food. Habitat can range widely and may even include suburban areas. The nest is built in holes in rock walls or on trees, but also in burrows under rocks on the floor. Clutch size: up to two white eggs, spotted dark red at thicker end. Although two eggs are laid, only one chick is raised each season. This is because the laying of the second egg takes place many days after the first one, but incubation of the first egg starts before the second laying. This difference in time allows the chick born first to eat the second one as soon as it hatches. Whenever threatened, particularly in the case of the chicks, they regurgitate the food, which gives off a most unpleasant smell for several metres around. In Argentina, within the area of Cholila (Chubut), close to Lago Lezama, several pairs have been spotted raising their offspring. Many of the nests were inside burrows among stones very close to the lakeshore. Range: widely distributed, the Black Vulture ranges from the USA, along the Andes in South America, to Argentina. In Patagonia it can be observed from Neuquén to the northeast of Chubut. Most groups live in forested areas. Although they do not occur in this region, they can often be sighted at El Hoyo de Epuyén, Cholila and Fofo Cahuel.
Illustrated Handbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs Family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction of photographs is forbidden without permission from the authors.
Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña