The black vulture has a large, black body with a naked black head. Seen from below, the wings are mostly black, with a white patch near the outer end of the wing; the tail is short. In flight, it alternates between a series of three to four flaps and soaring. The wings are held nearly horizontal. It frequently flies higher than turkey vultures, following and watching them from above.
Similar species: Turkey vultures are more common statewide. Adults have naked red heads. Seen from below, the wings appear black with the trailing half of the wing gray or sometimes silvery in certain light. Wings are held in a shallow V position, and in flight, turkey vultures tilt or wobble due to their relatively light weight.