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 — 24 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

  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

  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.

  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. Regularly see them around Leonardtown, and southern Maryland regularly while driving.

  13. 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.

  14. Just took a picture of a black vulture on Eastern Neck Island, let me get pretty close.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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.