3 recognized; NA subspecies is nominate
Southern U.S. through Central America and most of South America
Found anywhere in lowland, especially in open country; does not frequent dense forests. Associates closely with human habitation.
A scavenger, taking any animal food available (insects, birds’ eggs, fish, small and large animals). Congregates in large numbers around carcasses, often displacing the Turkey Vultures by their numbers. Sense of smell weak, so in forest edge areas depends on Turkey Vultures to find the food. Does regularly kill small prey, such as insects, fish, small reptiles, nestlings, etc.
Egg laying in March – May. Clutch size 2 eggs. Nests in shallow caves, on rocky outcrops between boulders, on ground near trees, or in hollow stumps. No nesting materials.
Most NA birds are resident, although there is some movement through Panama with the regular seasonal migration.
Widespread and abundant, especially around human habitation, from which it has definitely benefited.
Black, and other New World Vultures, may be moved to the Order Ciconiidae (Storks), based on DNA findings.