Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura

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  • Turkey Vulture |  Photo: Roy W. Lowe, USFWS
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Turkey Vulture Photo Gallery

Basic Information

Order

Accipitriformes

Family

Cathartidae

Size

Turkey Vultures are between 25.25 and 32 inches in length.

Lifespan

up to 17 years

Weight

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) facts, habitat, range, owl pictures and bird watching tips to help you identify the bird of prey.

Diet

Turkey Vultures eat carrion, which they locate with their incredible sense of smell.

Behavior

Soaring

Range

Nationwide

Nest Placement

Cliff

Number of Offspring

1–3 Eggs

Egg Description

Creamy/White tinged with gray, blue with purple to brown spots

Condition at Hatching

Helpless, blind

Social Status

Flocks

Wingspan

66.75–70.25 in

Observation Tips

Turkey Vultures are commonly observed while hiking on trails through hilly areas. Elevation changes allow for updrafts, which the raptors use to soar high into the sky.

What does the Turkey Vulture look like?

Turkey Vultures are large dark brown raptors. They have long burly wings that are white and black on the undersides, sharply hooked ghostly white bills and brilliant red bald heads.

Turkey Vulture Habitat

Forests

Turkey Vulture Facts

Turkey Vultures are large carrion eating Birds of Prey. These scavengers have a heightened sense of smell to detect dead animals below forest canopies. They tend to soar in the air with a distinctive "V" shape, looking for prey, sometimes in small groups. Views of Vultures vary with cultures. EX: Tibetan Buddhists practice "Sky Burials," during which the dead are eaten, often by vultures. The word vulture is thought to come from the Latin word "vellere," meaning to pluck or tear. They are colloquially called " buzzards."

See also