Unlike most Old World vultures, which breed in colonies, Black Vultures do so only in looser groups, and are also less likely to be sociable away from the nest. Although in some areas they occur alongside the Griffon Vulture, with which they can be confused at distance, they are far less of a bird of the mountains than the commoner species. They are the dominant raptors throughout their range, even bullying other large vultures and eagles at kills, and on rare occasions may even take live prey.
IN MALLORCA, LOOK FOR AT… Mallorca’s most important and sought-after breeding bird is only found in the Serra de Tramuntana. Nearly extinct on the island in the early 1980s, a conservation project was started in 1983, with the help of the regional government of the Balearic Islands. The first breeding success was in 1986, and there are now more than 130 birds, after a record breeding year in 2014. They nest in the north of the Tramuntana Mountains, but also feed in places around the Boquer Valley. The best sites to look for them are at Mortitx, the monastery at Lluc (where there’s a visitor centre for the Tramuntana), the Cuber Reservoir, and Castell Del Rei, on the Ternelles estate, near Pollença.
WHERE ELSE CAN I SEE IT? Small numbers in the Balkans and Asia Minor, and also found in the Extremadura region of mainland Spain, but otherwise you would be best to travel to central Asia. Always appears dark – even the wings show only very subtle contrasts
Largest of its family in Europe, although some overlap with larger individual Griffon Vultures
Found mainly in hilly, wooded or partiallywooded areas
Soars in wide circles on flat wings (Griffon Vultures soar on raised wings)
Perches more horizontally and less upright than Griffon Vultures
Almost silent, but display flights include pairs tumbling with feet interlocked