Thursday, January 7, 2010

Black Vulture

The black vulture is found in the southern United States and down into South America. I have only seen them a few times. In Louisiana, we saw them eating a dead armadillo, near Gibson. In Mexico, I saw one among many, many turkey vultures, down toward Mata Ortiz. See below.
On a trip to Everglades National Park in Florida in January 2013 we saw lots of black vultures on a number of occasions. The biggest grouping we saw was near the Anhinga Trail. They congregated into groups as large as 15 or 20 
and even had some double crested cormorants mix among them. We saw a couple of black vultures going after each other, biting each other's necks and heads, jumping up into the air and flapping their wings. I noticed quite a variation in the nature of the naked head. Some seemed to have very significant naked black skin, extending far down onto their necks. Sometimes their skin had the appearance of chain mail 
and sometimes it was more bulbous, like a turkey. 
Others seemed to have virtually no naked skin on their heads, 
but very short black feathers, almost like their heads had been shaved (see the contrast in the vulture in the center, compared to those to its right and left). 
In flight, the black vulture has white patches toward the ends of its wings, both underneath 
 and on top.
Those lighter feathers are evident on the vulture below, which is spreading its wings to a limited extent.

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