Bird of the Week: Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus). “They eat anything,

To: "Birding-Aus (Forum)" <>
Subject: Bird of the Week: Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus). “They eat anything, but especially they like the shit.”
From: Bob Gosford <>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 20:39:30 +0930

One of the great pleasures of driving around the American south-west is the
variety of raptors – birds of prey – that present themselves as you cruise
the big-sky country. Perched on trees and power-poles, soaring high on
thermals or just hanging around looking for the dead or dying. They are out
there, you've just got to use that inquisitive and following eye to find

I had a look at one of the most common American raptors, the Turkey Vulture
(*Cathartes aura)*, back in 2009
This week's bird is the Turkey Vulture's less common cousin, the Black
Vulture (*Coragyps atratus*) and I caught up with this 40 year-old bird –
and his 30 year-old female companion – in the back-yard aviary of my friend
and respected ethnoornithologist Amadeo
the University of San Diego at his house there a few weeks ago.

You can learn more about Amadeo's magisterial ethnobiological work with the
Piman peoples at the *University of Arizona Press* page

Amadeo has looked after these birds since they were fledglings as part of
his long-term research into the relationships between human and birds in
the American south and south-west.

Black Vultures rely on sight than smell when searching for food and will
often follow a Turkey Vulture towards carrion, where they can gather in
large flocks – often of several hundred birds – around a carcass. Black
Vultures have stronger beaks than their cousins and can tear up carcasses
more easily and will take a wider variety of food, including vegetable and
fruits like over-ripe coconuts, pumpkins and oil-palm nuts.

You can read the rest of this piece at *The Northern
find out more about ethno-ornithology at the Ethnoornithology Research &
Study group. <>*

I'd love to hear your thoughts or your own experiences with Vultures - of
any species ...

Bob Gosford
The Northern Myth blog
Alice Springs, NT
Ph: (+61) 0447024968
Twitter: @bgosford
"The NT Government does not respond to random electronic gossip sites."

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