Coragyps atratus Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Though vultures resemble hawks and eagles, they are actually related to the storks. They have bare heads, and toes adapted for walking and standing rather than the grabbing toes of birds of prey. Vultures often appear to have white legs because they squirt feces onto their legs and feet to cool themselves.
Black vultures are the smaller of the two vultures found in Florida. Though the black vulture and the turkey vulture are both black, it is easy to remember which is which, because the black vulture has a bare black head. Turkey vultures have a bare red head. In flight the undersides of the wings of black vultures have a white area near the tip of the wing.
Black vultures are gregarious, often seen in flocks. They are quite common in campgrounds where they sometimes become quite bold and tame. They are scavengers - the clean-up crew at road kills – groups of them are often seen along the side of the road feeding on road-killed deer, raccoons and other animals. Black vultures dominate turkey vultures when feeding at carcasses.
Black vultures form monogamous pair bonds, and in Florida they nest in hollow trees, palmetto thickets and beneath the roots of tipped up trees. They do not carry food back to the nest in their beaks or feet, but regurgitate food to feed the young.
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