Vultures: Coragyps atratus
Two species of vulture occur in Florida, the turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) and the black vulture (Coragyps atratus).
Turkey vultures have reddish heads while the heads of black vultures are black. The turkey vulture holds its wings in a slight "V" while soaring, whereas the black vulture's wings are held straight. The tail of the black vulture is usually more fanned out in flight and is shorter and broader than that of the turkey vulture.
The black vulture flaps its wings more and soars less than its relative. From below it has whitish patches near the tips of the wings, whereas the wings of the turkey vulture lack these patches.
Both species deposit their eggs on the ground under cover, in a hollow tree trunk or cave, or beneath palmetto thickets. No nests are built. Vultures usually lay 2 eggs which both sexes incubate for about 40 days. Young are fed regurgitated food by both parents and are ready to fly in about 8 to 10 weeks.
Vultures eat carrion in the form of road-kills or dead cattle in pastures. Black vultures are more aggressive and may occasionally kill or injure lambs, calves, cows giving birth, or other incapacitated livestock.
Vultures are under state protection, therefore it is unlawful to shoot or harass them without a permit from the FWC. If however, the vulture is tearing up a screen porch, or chewing up shingles or roofs, then you may want to consider scaring them with Pyrotechnics. The Wildlife Services group of the United States Department of Agriculture at 352-377-5556 can provide more information.
Image Credit: Gary Sprandel