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Not quite a turkey vulture?

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Saw this in Richmond, Indiana, on Thursday, July 30th. It’s a bit rainy, and the plumage is a little more brown than it looks like in this image. We don’t often get black vultures here in East Central Indiana, but turkey vultures are common. This, however, clearly doesn’t have the signature redness to its head, and has darker brown to black body feathers. Have I found a cross species, possibly, or is this a known, similar bird?

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Actually I think it is a black vulture. Its head seems too dark to be young Turkey vulture, and it looks like it has some lighter colored wing feathers. https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/64420881

Richmond, Indiana is slightly out of range for a black vulture, but not by much, so it doesn't seem impossible that it's a black vulture. (I'm no expert so I could be wrong)

Edited by Colton V
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Just now, Bobal27 said:

The reddish around the neck was not a photo artifact. That’s why I’ve been confused, it really looked like a mix.

What if it’s a young bird transitioning to adult plumage. It would start to get some red on it’s head. Structure looks better for black though. Tail looks to short for Turkey. 

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So, as I see it, so far, nobody is certain which it is. I did some research, and a certain vulture-banding ornithologist from Louisiana has caught (and presumably banded) what he claims was a cross between both species. Are there any experts around who can tell me if I’ve gotten the first photo of a cross-species vulture, or can point me in the direction of someone I can consult on the matter?


To note: Mr. McIlhenny stated that it was caught by a trap that only black vultures visit, and exhibited many traits of both species otherwise. His article from 1937 can be found here: https://academic.oup.com/auk/article-abstract/54/3/384/5238309?redirectedFrom=PDF

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11 hours ago, akandula said:

This is certainly a Black Vulture. It’s very compact with a relatively large head. Additionally, Turkey Vultures usually have some brown wearing on the wing feathers.

The reddish color could be the retention of some juvenile downy feathers.

There was definitely more of a brown color to the wing and body feathers, mixed in with the black.


9 hours ago, Chaseman said:

The white legs identify this as a Black Vulture.

According to the article I linked to, the bird he found had legs that were more turkey than Black, with the head being primarily Black, with some red. Its primaries were brown, with the remainder of its plumage being more that of a Black Vulture. Crosses between the two species have been found before, and can’t be identified by just the legs. I agree, though, that the legs are clearly those of a Black Vulture.

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1 hour ago, Phalarope713 said:

I wouldn’t hesitate calling this a Black Vulture. I’m not really seeing anything here to suggest a hybrid, but even if it was one, you’d probably need better documentation to confirm it. 

Thank you, the “picture” I posted is actually a video, thanks to the quirks of my iPhone, so you guys can’t see the whiteness of the wing feathers to the underside, nor the brownness of the body feathers and wing tips. If you could see that, would that change your mind?

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