The Black vulture (Coragyps atratus) and the Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) are two of the
three species of vulture that can be found in the whole of the United States, the third one being the California condor.
While the condor is endangered and limited to a small range in the west, you can see the Black and Turkey vultures anywhere in Texas and the surrounding states as well.
Here is the list of vultures in Texas:
- Turkey Vulture
- Black Vulture
2 Types of Vultures in Texas
1. Turkey Vulture
- Scientific name: Cathartes aura
- Length: 24–32 in (over two feet)
- Weight: 1.8 to 5.3 lb (70.5 oz)
- Wingspan: 63–72 in (about 6 feet)
The neck is darker than the dark chocolate brown body. The wings have a unique pale sheen on the underside, giving a two-toned appearance to them.
Look for them on roadsides, open fields, and countrysides. These birds prefer to scavenge for their prey in warmer weather, so if it is cold, look for them huddled in groups at the tops of trees.
Also, if a bird is far away and you can’t tell if you’re looking at a vulture or a raptor, look at the flight pattern. If the bird is making its wings into a V and gliding in a lazy circle, it’s probably a turkey vulture.
2. Black Vulture
- Scientific name: Coragyps atratus
- Length: 22–29 in (about 2 feet)
- Weight: 3.5–6.6 lb (56.4-77.6 oz)
- Wingspan: 52–66 in (about 5 feet)
If you’ve ever seen a large, stark black bird with white spots at the tips of its underwings, you
probably saw a black vulture.
Their heads are bald just as the turkey vulture’s head is, as both of these species spend their lives poking their heads into carrion, giving rise to this sanitary adaptation. Though they are both bald, of course, the turkey vulture’s head is red and the black vulture’s head is gray.
The black vulture is slightly smaller and sports a more compact body build. Their wings and tails are shorter, and they fly with a more precise gate.
● Turkey vultures can sniff out their food, but black vultures can’t because their sense of
smell is so poor. Because of this, black vultures regularly follow turkey vultures around
to snag their leftovers.
● Turkey vultures are larger birds that can chase black vultures away from a meal, however,
black vultures typically travel in larger groups, giving them an edge in the food fight.
● Vultures may live to be as old as 25 or so in the wild.
● Vultures are loving parent birds who feed and protect their chicks for months after
incubating the eggs for 40 long days.
Also Read: Woodpeckers in Texas Owls in Texas