SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cathartes aura
As scavengers, turkey vultures clean their habitat of rotting, dead flesh. In fact, their scientific name means “cleanser.” They can even eat infected and diseased meat without suffering and negative side effects. The turkey vulture’s most common characteristic is its bald head and neck, revealing red to red-purple skin. The rest of their body is covered in black or brownish-black feathers, with pale legs and grey-brown eyes. They are also known to have a silver lining to their wings. Turkey vultures are usually 26-32″ in length with a 68-72″ wingspan. With their large wingspan that forms a V when flying, turkey vultures are able to soar great distances with hardly any effort.
A vulture pair will nest in camoflauged areas on the ground or in caves and the female will usually lay 2 eggs. The male incubates the eggs for 38-41 days and the young will fledge 66-88 days after hatching.
Turkey vultures live across the United States during the summer in dry, open areas, deciduous forests and woodlands. In warmer climates, turkey vultures may stay year-round. If migrating, the bird will soar at 4,000-5,000′. The largest turkey vulture migration in the world can be seen over CALM during October. A turkey vulture’s diet is almost exclusively carrion. Their feet and beak are too weak to kill their own food. They have a highly developed sense of smell, which they use to locate dead flesh while soaring at 200′.
Adopt-an-Animal at CALM