Family New World Vultures (Cathartidae)

Least Concern

American Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)


French: Urubu noir German: Rabengeier Spanish: Zopilote negro
Other common names: Black Vulture

Vultur atratus


, 1793,

St John’s River, Florida, USA


Affinities unclear. In recent study, karyotype found to be similar to that of Sarcoramphus#R. Geographical variation over wide range largely clinal, and also much individual variation; species may be better considered monotypic. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. atratus (Bechstein, 1793) – S & E USA and N Mexico.
  • C. a. brasiliensis (Bonaparte, 1850) – tropical Mexico, Central America and N & E South America S to C Argentina (Río Negro).
  • C. a. foetens (M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1817) – W South America south to C Chile (N Aisén) and S Argentina (SW Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    56–74 cm; 1100–2100 g; wingspan 133–160 cm. Dull black, with only slight iridescence on wings and tail. Primary feathers have a light grey ventral side,... read more


    Utters low hisses, grunts and croaking noises in stress or annoyance, especially when feeding or if... read more


    Closely associated with human activity, and abundant around many cities, feeding on refuse and road... read more

    Food and feeding

    A general scavenger, taking almost any animal food, e.g. insects, birds’ eggs, fish; frequents small and large animal carcasses,... read more


    Laying dates very variable: in Ohio (USA), Mar–May; in Costa Rica Nov–Feb/Mar; in Panama Oct–Dec; in Colombia May–... read more


    Unlike C. aura, birds in North America seem largely resident. Some birds pass through... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common; has undoubtedly benefited from human activities, and now far more abundant in disturbed habitats than in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Houston, D. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). American Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).