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Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)



Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) In Flight Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Class: Aves
Family: Cathartidae
Common Name: Turkey Vulture
Genus: Cathartes
Species Name: aura

About The Turkey Vulture

A large (26-32 inches) dark raptor, the Turkey Vulture is most easily identified by its dark brown body, featherless red head, and huge wingspan. This species may be separated from the related Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) by that species’ smaller size, gray head, and shorter tail. Male and female Turkey Vultures are similar to one another in all seasons. The Turkey Vulture breeds across much of the United States (patchily distributed in the Great Plains) and southern Canada south to southern South America. Populations breeding on northern and interior portions of this range migrate south to the southern half of the U.S.for the winter. Populations breeding in the southeastern U.S., California, and the tropics are generally non-migratory. Turkey Vultures typically breed and roost in dense woodland while feeding in more open habitats, such as grasslands, meadows, and fields. In some areas, Turkey Vultures also utilize man-made structures, such as abandoned buildings and utility poles. This species feeds almost exclusively on carrion, rarely killing prey itself. Due to this species’ need to scavenge for food, Turkey Vultures are most easily observed soaring high above the ground in search of carrion. Scientists have discovered that this species possesses a more developed sense of smell than the Black Vulture, and that Black Vultures often wait for Turkey Vultures to find food before driving them off and taking the carcass for themselves. This species is primarily active during the day.



Rights Holder: Unknown
Bibliographic Citation: Rumelt, Reid B. Cathartes aura. June-July 2012. Brief natural history summary of Cathartes aura. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

Trips Where Observed

Around The World in 66 Days
Brazil
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Mexico to Panama
Mexico, Baja California Sur
Mexico, Nayarit
Mexico, Veracruz
Moving the Car
Panama
Peru
Puerto Rico
San Francisco 2007
Southeast Arizona
Texas

Member Lifelists

California
Ecuador
Illinois
Mexico
My Yard
New Jersey
North America
San Francisco
South America
United States
World

Sites Where Observed

Location
Date
Notes
11/19/2006
10/10/2007
Flyover migration.
1/22/2009
Seen flying offshore on the way to Swallow Caye
7/15/2011
4/14/2013
5/10/2014
6/21/2019
6/21/2019
6/22/2019
6/25/2019
6/26/2019

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