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Photo of two black vultures standing on the ground

Black Vulture

Coragyps atratus
Although turkey vultures are much more common in Missouri, black vultures are expanding their range northward, and sightings of them are increasing. Note their black head, shorter tail, and (seen from below) a white patch near the ends of the wings.

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Closeup photo of a black vulture's head as it picks at food on the ground

Black Vulture (Closeup)

The black vulture has a large, black body with a naked black head. As with turkey vultures, their featherless heads are a hygienic adaption for a life of eating from sloppy, smelly carcasses.

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Photo of black vulture soaring

Black Vulture Soaring

Seen from below, black vultures in flight tend to hold their wings horizontally (not in a shallow V), with the wingtips stretching somewhat forward. The wings are mostly black, with a white patch near the outer end of the wing; the tail is short. They usually alternate between a series of three to four flaps and soaring.

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Photo of two black vultures standing on the ground

Black Vultures

Although turkey vultures are much more common in Missouri, black vultures are expanding their range northward, and sightings of them are increasing. Note their bumpy, black, featherless heads and short, stubby tails.

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Photo of a group of black vultures feeding on a coyote carcass

Black Vultures Feeding

Like turkey vultures, black vultures feed on carrion. Black vultures commonly follow turkey vultures to find food, and groups of them often aggressively drive off the turkey vultures. Black vultures tend to stay in tight-knit family groups.

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Photo of a turkey vulture in flight

Missouri's Vultures

This content is archived
These creatures of bad habits serve as nature's cleanup crew.

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photo of opossum

Opossum

Although opossums are famous for "playing possum"-pretending to be dead when threatened-they will hiss in conflicts with other animals or if cornered.

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Photo of a turkey vulture in flight

Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura
This “buzzard” is perhaps the most commonly seen soaring bird in our state. Identify it from below by its shallow V-angled wing posture and two-toned pattern, with the forward edge of the wings black and the trailing half gray or silvery.

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