New World vulture

family of birds

New World vultures are the group of vultures that are found in the Americas. They form the family Cathartidae. There are seven species in five genera. Four of the genera have only one species each.

New World vultures
Temporal range: PaleoceneHolocene, 64.5–0 Ma
American black vultures on a cow carcass
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Cathartidae
Lafresnaye, 1839


These are large birds of prey that feed on the meat of dead or dying animals. The name "Cathartidae" comes from the Greek word katharsis meaning to purge or make clean.

Unlike other birds of prey, they have a good sense of smell. The opening of their nostrils has a hole through from one side of the beak to the other. Some other vultures hop to move on the ground, but the New World vultures walk.

The two largest species are called condors.

Species change

References change

  1. BirdLife International (2009a)
  2. BirdLife International (2009)