Black VultureCoragyps atratus (Bechstein)
Status Four records. One killed at Pugwash, Cumberland County, on 12 January 1896 was sent to taxidermist T.J. Egan, in Halifax where it was examined by Piers (1897). Another killed at Owl's Head, Halifax County, on 1 December 1918 was sent to taxidermist L.A. Purcell, in Dartmouth (Piers' notes). The third was seen at Linacy, Pictou County, on 22 July 1936 by Alban Brown, who became familiar with this species and the following one when he lived in Florida before coming to Nova Scotia. The fourth was well studied by Betty June and Sidney Smith at Cape Sable one autumn in the early sixties.
Remarks The Black Vulture is similar in appearance to the somewhat larger Turkey Vulture, but distinguished by its black (instead of red) head and neck, its squarish tail and the lighter colour near the ends of its wings, conspicuous in flight. The bird has a more southern range in the United States, breeding north to New Jersey on the eastern seaboard, and rarely wandering to southern Canada. It is a more aggressive bird than the Turkey Vulture and any rivalry over the ownership of a carcass usually results in the dominance of the former. Vultures very rarely attack living animals, and then only if they are small or injured. Vultures are given protection throughout the year by law as well as by public sentiment.
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Photo courtesy of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
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