*Cathartidae species are now officially considered Ciconiiformes. In other words, New World vultures (i.e., Turkey Vulture, Condors, etc.) have been genetically found to be related to storks and not hawks in DNA research on convergent evolution.
26-32" (66-81 cm). Large, black bird with a red, featherless face and a pale, downcurved bill; yellow feet. In flight, wings show lighter primary feathers.
Similar Species- Black Vulture, Swainson's Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk
Breeds from southern British Columbia, east to southern Manitoba and New England, and south through U.S. and Middle America to South America. Winters mainly from northern California, Arizona, Ohio Valley, and Maryland south to South America.
Eats mainly vertebrate carrion; prefers fresh meat. Sometimes eats ripe or rotten fruits.
Uses scant nest on cliff or standing snag. May roost singly, or in large flocks in trees at night; roosts are often near or over water. In Maryland/Pennsylvania study, average distance between communal roost and feeding site was 8 km. Roosts may be temporary (at food source), seasonal (spring-fall), or permanent. In one study, most individuals left roost 3.5-5 hr after sunrise. Individual may remain at roost up to 2 or more days during rainy weather. Locates food visually, or by odor. Hunts at 60 m, but migrates between 1200-1500 m. Light wing loading permits ease of flight. Species is resistant to botulism.
Both sexes incubate 2 eggs (usually) for 5-6 wk. Young first fly at about 9 wk. Family may stay together several months after young fledge.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
AOU Checklist, 1998, 7th Ed..