RAPTORS of South America

Raptors are carnivorous. They hunt by sight during the day, are long lived, and have low reproductive rates. The catch their prey via strong claws three pointing forward and one pointing backward. The raptors that hunt by day are: hawks, eagle, buzzards, harriers, kites, vultures, falcons, caracaras. Owls hunt by night. Raptors are also called birds of prey.



New World Vultures

Order Accipitriformes    Family Cathartidae

The order Accipitriformes contains the diurnal (active during the day) birds of prey: hawks, goshawks, eagles, kites, vultures, ospreys, secretary birds. These birds have sometimes been considered part of the Falconiformes which contains the falcons, but DNA evidence indicates the orders should be separate.

The Cathartidae family contains the New World vultures. They are not closely related to Old World Vultures. They resemble each other because of convergent evolution. Vultures in general feed on dead animals. They tend to have bald heads to minimize the feathers that get contaminated from carrion. New World Vulture have a good sense of smell which they use to help locate their meals.


Genus Cathartes

Vulture, Greater Yellow-headed  Cathartes melambrotus  Found: South America
Greater Yellow-headed has black plumage. The head and neck, which are featherless, range in color from deep yellow to pale orange. It lacks a syrinx, and its vocalizations are therefore limited to grunts or low hisses.
Simillar to: Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture.  Greater Yellow-headed Vulture is larger than Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and is also darker.
Image by: 1) Charlie Westerinen  2, 3) Dave Curtis - Guyana


Vulture, Lesser Yellow-headed  Cathartes burrovianus  Found: Central and South America
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture plumage is black, and the head and neck, which are featherless, are pale orange with red or blue areas. It lacks a syrinx, so therefore its vocalizations are limited to grunts or low hisses.
Simillar to: Greater Yellow-headed Vulture.  Greater Yellow-headed Vulture is larger than Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and is also darker.
Image by: 1) Cláudio Timm - Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil  2) Lip Kee Yap - Ibera Marshes, Argentina   3) Jerry Oldenettel - Belize  4) Dilson Santos - Brazil  5) Patty McGann - Belize



Vulture, Turkey also Turkey Buzzard Cathartes aura   Found: The Americas
The Turkey Vulture has brownish-black plumage with whitish flight feathers underneath; small red head.
Similar to: Black Vulture. The Turkey Vulture has much more white on the underside of its wings. The Black Vuluture has a "prettier" face.
Image by: 1) Dori - Florida 2) Ken Slade - Texas  3, 4, 5) Dick Daniels - North Carolina   6, 7) Dick - Carolina Raptor Center  6, 7) Leucistic Turkey Vultures (that is, whitish Turkey Vultures)




Genus Coragyps - 1 species

Vulture, Black also American Black Vulture Coragyps atratus   Found: The Americas
The Black Vulture has black plumage; gray head, neck.
Similar to: Turkey Vulture. The Turkey Vulture has much more white on the underside of its wings. The Black Vuluture has a "prettier" face.
Image by:   1, 6) Dick Daniels - Florida   2) Dick - Ecuador   3) Sandy Cole - Flamingo Gardens in Florida   4) Charlie Westerinen   5) Dick - South Carolina  7, 8, 9) Dick Daniels - Pedasi, Panama





Genus Sarcoramphus - 1 species

Vulture, King  Sarcoramphus papa  Found: South America
Large and predominantly white, the King Vulture has gray to black ruff, flight, and tail feathers. The head and neck are bald, with the skin color varying, including yellow, orange, blue, purple, and red. The King Vulture has a very noticeable yellow fleshy caruncle on its beak.
Image by: 1) Eric Kilby - Washington National Zoo  2) B Miry   3) William Wan  4) Barloventomagico - Venezuela



Genus Vultur - 1 species

Condor, Andean  Vultur gryphus  Found: South America 
The Andean Condor is a large black vulture with a ruff of white feathers surrounding the base of the neck and, especially in the male, large white patches on the wings. The head and neck are nearly featherless, and are a dull red color, which may flush and therefore change color in response to the bird's emotional state. In the male, there is a wattle on the neck and a large, dark red comb or caruncle on the crown of the head.
Image by: 1) Nathan Rupert  2) Dick Daniels - National Aviary  3) Drriss and Marrionn  4) Dick - near Urubamba, Peru





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