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Alternative name: American Black Vulture
This New World vulture is entirely black, except for a pale patch on the outer primaries on the under- and upperwings (see picture). Its head is unfeathered and somewhat paler than the body and its tail is very short. Average females can weigh up to 2 kg, males are slightly heavier.
 Similar Species
The Black Vulture can be mistaken with the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), but they are easily separated by:
Another good way to distinguish them is the flight: Black Vultures beat their wings more often than Turkey when in flight. Above mentioned features are also useful for separating the Black Vulture from the Lesser Yellow-headed and Greater Yellow-headed Vultures, except that they have mainly yellow heads as adults. The pale patch in the primaries vaguely resemble that in the Southern (Caracara plancus) and Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway), too, but remaining plumage and wing and tail shape easily separate them.
The Black Vulture is very widespread and common, being found throughout almost whole South America, except for far south, Central America, Mexico and southern and eastern United States. Has been recorded as a vagrant on Cuba and the southern Lesser Antilles.
Three subspecies exist, but they are not always recognised. Howard & Moore checklist, for example, consider C. atratus monotypic.
It lives in a wide range of habitats from deserts and grasslands to woodland and forest, but the last is often avoided. They are mostly found in open areas, being very common in big cities, e.g. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This vulture, as well as some others, soars high with wings held in dihedral, in large groups or pairs, searching for thermal currents. Hundreds of individuals are seen soaring and perched on trashpiles, which together with the ability to nest on skycrapers, makes this species one of the most adaptable to human life. They are often seen taking sun baths with the wings spread.
It searches for food by eyesight and its diet consists mostly of carcasses, but they can feed, in lesser scale, on insects, small mammals, reptiles and eggs.
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