These large birds are somewhat bigger than a red-tailed hawk and a bit smaller than their relative the turkey vulture. They are all black except for white wing tips below. They have a very short, rounded tail. Their powerful bill is hooked at the end.
Black Vultures soar on thermals, often in groups. Their sense of smell is poor, so they often follow the Turkey Vulture and “mooch.” They eat only carrion and thus often hang out by roadsides. They roost together in large groups. Pairs bond for life; this species does not build a nest but just lays eggs on bare ground in a secluded spot. They lack vocal cords, so only make hissing or grunting sounds.
What brings it to the SBG?
Possibly food or nesting sites. Turkey vultures visit the SBG regularly so Black Vultures may be tagging along. The Black Vulture’s range has been steadily moving northward; Pennsylvania is on its extreme northern edge. In recent years there have been more sightings.
When can I see it?