European Black Vulture vs. Turkey Vulture

Difference Between European Black Vulture And Turkey Vulture

European Black Vulture

The European black vulture is the largest of all the vultures. It is a heavy but majestic bird. It launches itself into the air with strong, deep wing beats. Once in the sky, it soars effortlessly. There is only an occasional flap of its immense wings. The European black vulture can glide for hours. It rides high on currents of warm, upward-flowing air.

What happens when the black vulture spots a large, dead animal on the ground? It swoops overhead to take a closer look and then lands. The black vulture has a long, powerful beak. It uses it to tear large chunks of meat and skin from the dead animal’s bones. To warn away intruders, the black vulture lowers its head and raises its tail and neck feathers. If its warning is ignored, the vulture may leap forward, striking with its sharply taloned feet. It can inflict serious injury.

Despite its power and aggressiveness, the black vulture population is declining. Fewer than 900 pairs survive today. These majestic birds are threatened by the destruction of their natural habitat. They are also being poisoned. Ranchers put out poisoned carcasses to lure wolves and other predators. If the vultures feed on these carcasses they die.

Black vultures perform breathtaking courtship flights before they mate. The pair swoops and sails in huge circles high above the trees or at the top of cliffs. After mating, the male and female work together to build a large nest of sturdy sticks.

Turkey Vulture

A dozen birds circle high in the sky. Suddenly, as though prompted, they swoop down in unison and land within inches of the carcass of a dead animal. Then, in a horrifying display, the birds rip apart the remains of the hapless creature until little is left but its skeleton. Once again the turkey vulture has performed a vital service by cleaning up the environment.

The turkey vulture is one of the most common and most widely distributed of the New World vultures, a family that includes the endangered California condor. The turkey vulture lives as far north as southern Canada and as far south as the tip of South America. Similar in size to a small eagle, the turkey vulture is blackish with long and rather broad wings, a rounded tail, and a small bald red head. Practically voiceless, the turkey can only hiss and snarl. Although awkward on the ground, this bird is a graceful flier. It spends most of the day in the air, returning to the ground only to eat. Although the turkey vulture has a strong sense of smell, it finds its food chiefly through its telescopic vision. Like its fellow vultures, this species is a scavenger, eating mostly carrion—the remains of dead animals.

The turkey vulture does not build a nest. It lays its eggs, usually two, on the ground, in tree holes, between rocks, or in the cavities of cliffs. Both parents sit on the eggs until they hatch—after about 40 days—and then jointly care for the young birds.

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