This vulture, apart from being an expert glider which performs the function of cleaning exposed animal detritus, is also known as an excellent aerial hunter. The black-headed vulture (Coragyps atratus) has a wingspan of 1.3 meters and lives for eight to twelve years. It belongs to the New World vulture family. Also known as the common vulture, crow, black vulture and apitã, it is not a very popular bird.
Constant frequenters of Pipa’s beaches, they fly overhead in search of carcasses or easy prey, such as young turtles, rodents, frogs, lizards and other birds. Flying up above, the rarefied air aids their digestion, which is why it is so easy to spot them gliding; only after this purification do they return to the ground.
Their nests, which they make in tree hollows, between rocks, or in other preferably high places, provide shelter for an incubation period of on average one month, during which time the female guards her bluish-white, brown-speckled eggs. They also circulate amongst other birds or people in search of food remains or parts of prostrate domestic animals.
It is common to observe mixed flocks in nature, since such fusions benefit the participants in some form or another. Such is the case with the black-headed vulture and the caracara: the vultures (which do not possess a vocal organ of their own) allow the caracaras to share in the moment of dividing the carcass, taking advantage of their group defense system, by which they cry out a warning in the event of danger.
This is one of the most common birds in any region of Brazil, especially in well-populated areas. They are found from as far as central United States throughout practically all of South America, wherever there are cities, farms and open areas.