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Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura                                                        Photo Chris Burney ©


Turkey vultures and black vultures are similar in size and coloration, but turkey vultures have red heads and necks.  The turkey vulture is so named because its head resembles the head of a wild turkey.

The two species can also be distinguished in flight by the fact that only the tips of the black vulture’s wings are white, whereas the back half of the undersides (flight feathers) of the turkey vulture’s wings are silvery white.  Turkey vultures are also regularly seen standing with their wings spread, a posture not often seen in black vultures.

Turkey vultures are scavengers and use their sense of smell to locate carrion. They are even able to detect dead animals that are not visible beneath a forest canopy. Unlike the more social black vulture, turkey vultures usually forage alone.

Little is known about the nesting habits of turkey vultures and only a few nests have been found. They usually lay two eggs on the ground in a cave or under the roots of a tipped up tree.


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