Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura

Summary 4

The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is 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 (up to 70 inches!). Male and female Turkey Vultures are similar to one another in all seasons. They have a distinctive soaring shape of a dihedral (v-shape) and tip from side to side while in flight.

Where on Campus? 5

Turkey vultures are usually seen soaring over campus.

Habitat 5

Turkey vultures can be found pretty much anywhere there is open woodland, rangeland, forest, grassland. They roost in trees.

Life History 5

Nesting Turkey Vultures don’t build full nests. They may scrape out a spot in the soil or leaf litter, pull aside obstacles, or arrange scraps of vegetation or rotting wood. Once found, many of these nest sites may be used repeatedly for a decade or more. They produce 1 brood/year. Chicks are semialtricial.

Feeding Scavengers. They eat pretty much any dead thing they can find.

Distribution 5

Southern Canada to the tip of South America.

Migration 5

Many populations of Turkey vultures are migratory, moving south in the Winter. It is likely that our populations are not, but there is no evidence one way or another.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) David Baron, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://www.flickr.com/photos/14869313@N00/3070052982
  2. (c) Dori, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/25620774
  3. (c) David Cook, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://www.flickr.com/photos/kookr/2847152273/
  4. Adapted by gillian360 from a work by (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/22710054
  5. (c) gillian360, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)

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