Life Cycles

Black Vulture

  • Life expectancy in the wild ranges to around 10 years, while in captivity they can live to be 30.
  • In the United States, birds in more southern states begin breeding as early as January, while those in northern states generally do not start before March.
  • Females usually lay 2 eggs, in rocky crevices, caves, tree cavities, hollow logs, or on the floors of abandoned buildings.
  • Both parents incubate the eggs for 32-45 days, in 24-hour shifts. Both adults also participate in feeding the chicks after hatching until they are 14 days old.
  • Chicks are altricial and fledge when they are 10-14 weeks old.
  • Chicks sometimes stay with their parents for a couple months and partly depend on them for food.

Turkey Vulture

  • Life expectancy in the wild ranges to around 16 years, while in captivity they can live to 45.
  • In the southern United States breeding season commences in March, peaks in April to May, and continues into June. In northern parts, the season starts later and extends into August.
  • Female lays 1-2 eggs under a bush, in a hollow log, or in a rocky cave.
  • Both parents incubate the eggs for 28-30 days, and both participate in feeding the chicks after hatching.
  • Chicks are altricial, and fledge when they are 9-10 weeks old.
  • The family remains together until the fall.


Both vultures depend mainly on carrion (flesh of dead animals), however the Black Vulture is known to attack prey more often than the Turkey Vulture. Black vultures have been known to kill pigs, lambs, skunks, calves, turtle hatchlings, opossums, and even herons. Turkey Vultures on the other hand, prefer carcasses and roadkill, and their extraordinary sense of smell helping them locate their meals from up to 5 miles away. If they have no other choice, Turkey Vultures will only attack small and helpless animals for food, staying away from livestock and other large species.


[Black Vulture Range Map in North America]. (n.d.). 6 Simple Steps to Tell a Turkey Vulture From a Black Vulture. 6-simple-steps-to-tell-a-turkey-vulture-from-a-black-vulture/

Map of Turkey Vulture Migratoin

[Range map of Turkey Vultures in North America]. (n.d.). 6 Simple Steps to tell a Turkey Vulture from a Black Vulture. 6-simple-steps-to-tell-a-turkey-vulture-from-a-black-vulture/

    Black Vulture

  • Resident to short-distance.
  • Individuals that spend the summer in high-altitude parts of the range move southward or downslope for the winter.
  • Recently more birds have begun to not migrate or join groups of Turkey Vultures.

    Turkey Vulture

  • Resident to long-distance.
  • Some Turkey Vultures in the southern United States do not migrate.
  • Northeast vultures migrate short distances southward, to North Carolina through Louisiana.
  • Western birds migrate much farther, with more than a million moving through Central America and in some cases as far as Ecuador.

Are they Invasive?

Although both the black and turkey vulture are not identified as invasive species, their increase in population has caused multiple issues. Since the 1980's, catching sight of a vulture has become increasingly common. This change in population is mostly due to the use of cars, since roadkill, an easy food source for vultures, became common. More and more vultures started spreading around the United States, and with them bringing problems. Black vultures have been caught attacking young calves, and a flock of them can easily kill both the mother and calf. In many states, like Ohio, farmers can now call a wildlife service to lethally remove vultures from the area to prevent death of livestock. Vultures also have a very high PH level, and their acidic waste buildup on roofs is never welcome by citizens. The birds, who vomit and hiss when threatened, are difficult to chase away, so the safe removal of them from the area can be difficult, usually leading to them being killed.