Black Vulture

Black Vulture

A black vulture waits.

The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) is a nasty looking character.

Not nearly as abundant and extensive across the state of Maryland as the Turkey Vulture, the Black Vulture is most likely found in the eastern part of the state. Areas like Eastern Neck and Blackwater list the species as uncommon in their field guides.

The above photo was taken within Gunpowder State Park.

Aside from the obvious difference of cranial color, the Black Vulture is slightly smaller than the Turkey and usually has a shorter tail. Juvenile Turkey Vultures have the same gray facial appearance and, however, and the best way to distinguish between the two species is with their wings open. Black Vultures sport white feathers only at the edged of their wings.

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Black Vulture — 57 Comments

  1. I saw a pair of Black Vultures on the I495 off ramp at the end of the northbound George Washington Parkway on Tuesday afternoon. I was very surprised to see them as I’ve never before seen them anywhere in the Washington, D.C., Northern VA, MD vicinity. I was traveling home from work. I just thought I’d mention it since your site indicates their not that common in this area.

    My husband and I are great backyard bird enthusiasts and have three feeders hanging from our deck. During the early part of Fall we see several species of birds we see only when they’re migrating north or south. It gives us a great deal of pleasure and is always a thrill when we sight a bird we’ve never seen at our feeders before. Lately a brown thrasher has been visiting our feeders, almost daily. I was surprised to see him/her at the feeder as I didn’t think they frequented them.

    Anyway, sorry to go on and on.


    Martha Flagge
    Urbana, MD

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  2. If you want to see dozens at a time, in spring and fall a “family reunion” of sorts takes place in a huge sycamore near the intersection of Dulaney Valley Road and Long Green Road in Phoenix. This week , I have counted up to 63 at one time in the tree. This reunion lasts for a few weeks and then most of them disperse to parts unknown. We seem to have core of residents of about 7. It is really a sight to behold but I would not recommend walking directly under the tree~!

  3. We have a large group of black vultures hanging around our property on the Wye River. At least a dozen of them were gathered around our cove where I could observe them at close range, some literally just a few feet away. I was wondering if they might be migrating through this area since I don’t recall ever seeing so many.

    We are also fortunate to have a pair of bald eagles who nest nearby and like to around and fish off our and our neighbor’s property.

  4. I stumbled across your website and it is terrific
    Loved your close-ups, your attention to detail and your descriptions of the encounters. thanks for sharing with everyone I’ll keep checking into your site. Oh and really loved this picture of the black vulture. He looks so ‘Vulture-ish!’ Your rapid wolf spider shots with those bloody fangs were amazing too… WOW talk about rapid! thanks

  5. I live in Knoxville,Maryland about 600yards from the Potomac river,the railroad is between me &the river.Two days ago a young deer came down the hill and curled up resting,I waited 15 minutes & looked again,it looked at me.I went inside and was busy for about 2hours.when I again looked it was dead.It had almost lost its spots of youth.I put my high rubber gloves on & dragged the cadaver 60 yards from the house in the open area.Crows were the first to arrive.Then I guess ravens,turkey buzzards,and then about 20 big black birds but they diden’t look like the picture of the black vulture.they chased the others away,the turkey buzzard was on the fringe of them like a jackel looking for scraps.the black ones exercised the pecking order among themselves while feeding.they did not appear to be vultures to my armature eye.what they left was eaten by the others.

  6. good morning folks … live in Deale, MD., 10 miles south of Annapolis. Was awaken this morning with the sound of “something” on the roof. Went outside, we have 8 – 10 very large black vultures perched on the ridge of our roof. Why are they there? Is there something dead? Also heard a pecking noise, I saw one of them pecking at the black painted aluminum cover where a vent pipe comes up thru the roof … whats that all about. Should I be concerned? We live in the woods, my wife and I enjoy the bird watching from our deck,I do have numerous feeders scattered about … what are these giants doing on my roof???? Thanks, much appreciated. Dave

    • I was driving a friend home when we saw 4 Black vultures on the road with a kill on Montevideo Rd in Jessup

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  7. Saw two outside my office window in Silver Spring this morning. They actually walked up to the window and gave me a good stare. Probably thinking of me as a lunch possibility 🙂 They took off after about 3-4 minutes after figuring out there’s no way they’re getting at me, thankfully.

  8. For at least the last 8 to 10 years, I’ve observed black vultures roosting around the AT&T tower in Finksburg, MD at Suffolk Road and Rt. 140. They are very large birds. I never really paid attenion to whether they migrate in winter but haven’t seen them around lately….so assume they do migrate in colder weather.

  9. Saw a pair playing along Contee Rd near Briarwood Dr this afternoon in South Laurel. We usually only see Turkey Vultures around here.

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  10. I have about thirty that visit me every day. I put food out for the birds and they come and eat. They are actually very pretty up close. They stay about 1/4 mile away in a big tree. I live in a wooded area off Carpenters Point rd. in Perryville

  11. Saw three of these on Montgomery Village Ave near the golf course. They were standing in a group on the side of the road. I didn’t even know these could be found in Maryland. I stopped the car to gawk and they didn’t move or see afraid. I couldn’t believe my eyes

  12. I have lived in the Rosedale area since 1958. today was the first time I saw two black vultures feeding on a dead rabbit. I feed the birds and have seen hawks and woodpeckers and many beautiful birds but never vultures.

  13. I saw a Black Vulture today for the first time. Was at Lambs Knoll/Appalacian Trail near Middletown, MD. Its white tipped wings immediately caught my eye.

  14. Saw about 10 of these black vultures today in Potomac, MD — even turned the car around to take a better look as I knew they were different than what I had ever seen i.e., turkey vultures.

  15. There is an area off York Rd and Scott Adam Road in Hunt Valley where Black vultures congregate in the afternoons. Not sure why or what the draw is. Yesterday I checked it out, since my curiosity got the best of me. There are several dozen lined up along the back parking lot – just hanging out! Has anyone seen them?

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  16. Black vultures have been seen in Welcome, MD. and LaPlata, Md. farms scooping down after the calves. We have plenty of turkey vultures and have just noticed these birds in the last few years.

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  17. I live in Crofton, MD. Since late Fall, a group of roosting black vultures has grown from about 20 to over 50. They are in the trees and on the roof tops, and on the ground occasionally. I realize they are legally protected as a migratory species. Most look to be juveniles but there are several very big ones. Another has an orange tag on the left wing, number “227” – anybody looking for black vulture number 227. Yeah, they are so close I can read the blasted tag number! Come and get it please.

  18. Last Sunday a group of Black Vultures were circling over the woods near my house…Today there is one on my front porch that probably has a bum wing.
    We have many Turkey Vultures in the area. In fact there is a Turkey Vulture Festival 12 miles south of here in Makanda,IL. However, this is the first time I have ever seen the Black Vulture.

  19. The Poolesville, MD area has more vultures than any one place I’ve ever lived. When you make jokes about it being the ‘town mascot’ and see dozens in the trees and hanging out at McDs dumpster in the morning, you know you have an amazing venue of vultures.

  20. I saw 4(four) black vultures in Kensington, MD in a house yard with one perched on the fence. The exact location is Star Road off of Schuykill Road not too far from the Beach Drive watershed – off of Connecticut Avenue, Montgomery County, MD.

  21. There was a flock of about eight Black Vultures in my Waldorf, Charles County, MD neighborhood this morning. One was tagged with an orange tag.

  22. I have a family in my shed. The eggs just hatched last week. The babies are adorable. As interesting as it has been to watch, it has been just as upsetting. I cannot mow near or around the shed, the smell is horrendous, and now the father trying to fight my dogs. Frederick, Maryland

  23. For the past few years, we see several black vultures at about the cross section of 695 and 83. I saw them pecking at the road kill one morning.

  24. Just came accross 2 of them on my way back home in Aberdeen. I thought they were turkeys at first since we had gotten them before but after recording a video, I found out they were black vultures.

  25. I just saw a black vulture near Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring Maryland. He/she flew right over me twice and then perched on a light pole.

    Wish I could have gotten a picture.

  26. I just saw a flock of Black Vultures eating garbage in Pocomoke City, MD on the Eastern Shore. I was blessed to get a few shots of them on the ground and a good one when they flew to the roof of a house. They are beautiful!

  27. I think there were 3 black vultures in Bowie a few days ago. They were on the side of the road, hanging out. I thought they were ravens at first, but as I got closer I could see they didn’t have the dark, shiny feathers around their head and neck like ravens. In fact, their heads and necks looked bare, which made me think perhaps they were a type of vulture I wasn’t familiar with, so I dug around and found that, in fact, there are black vultures in Maryland.

  28. There has been an increase of black vultures in Laurel, Maryland in Howard County. They are making a mess with the trash and recycling. I’ve seen them on roof tops, in trees as well as on the ground just waiting to get a hold of the trash or recycle items.

  29. 2-2-19 I just moved to Carroll county, Md. & have been seeing a bunch of big, husky-looking birds every day. I’ve been told they are ravens, or crows & or a type of buzzard. They DO look like a species of buzzard. They roost & fly, in large groups, around the towers of the Lehigh Cement Union Bridge. Up close, they look like a big black bird with a slightly elongated neck. The entire bird has dense black feathers w/ the neck having a pattern of dark gray feathers intermingled. Anyone know what these birds are? Thanks. 🙂

  30. I have dozens living right next to my front door year round. I’ve grown to really love them. They are so cool and living with them in such close proximity I can get within a few feet of them regularly and they fly around right next to me.

  31. Saw six in neighbor’s driveway today. Could not get close enough to take good picture but saw one with red on shoulders. Could only see one side.

  32. We live in Millersville, for years we have had numerous squirrels in our yard and throughout the neighborhood. All of the sudden this year they are all but gone. Have seen what look like vultures around the area and perched on street lights, believe they are responsible for the loss of the squirrels.

  33. We live in Glen Burnie & while outside with our 2 cats we spotted 3 black vultures on our neighbor’s roof. My son took pictures as we weren’t sure about them but sure seems to fit the pictures we saw on this website. I read they have caught & killed small pets so brought our cats in.

  34. A large family of Black Vultures have circled overhead in this area between Elkton, MD and Newark DE for years. Sometimes, they hang out on my roof. A couple of days ago one was walking around at the end of our driveway, sometimes walking in front of my car. And, I would need to gently guide it to the side. A very gentle, peaceful bird. We decided to just give the bird space to do what it needed to do to take care of itself. And, it hid behind the trash cans over night. The next morning, it walked across the drive way in front of my car and jumped up on the fence. By noon we saw it high in a tree (yeah!). Then gone! We didn’t know whether it was wounded, old, or a fledging. Does anyone know when they have their young?

  35. I saw Black Vultures in Florida and they were eating anything black-rubber-like. The Myakka State Parks even warned of them eating windshield wipers. I hope they don’t bring this bad habit to Maryland!
    I have just seen them in Fruitland, MD circling our playground and on Polks Road in Somerset County eating carrion…the native Turkey Vultures were still in charge it seemed.
    I have not observed them until this year and it appears they have settled into our ecosystem now.

  36. In Rockville, MD, corner of Shady Grove & Traville Gateway, I see about a dozen Black Vultures every morning on my walk. They congregate around a garbage bin behind a Japanese restaurant. I’ve seen them once in a while inside the dumpster but for the most part, they seem to just chill on buildings or trees or even the parking lot nearby.

    What do they feed on? Is it the leftover food from the restaurant that attracts them? Is there any danger from them hanging around? They seem to disappear by mid-morning and I don’t notice them anywhere in the area throughout the day.

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