- Common throughout North America, adult Turkey Vultures have reddish skin on their unfeathered heads .
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in Albanian:
Common Names in Basque:
Common Names in Czech:
Common Names in Danish:
Common Names in Dutch:
Common Names in English:
Turkey Vulture, =Buzzard, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, John Crow, Red-necked Buzzard, Turkey Buzzard
Common Names in Estonian:
Common Names in Finnish:
Common Names in French:
Catharte Aura, Urubu , urubu à tête rouge, urubu Ã tÃªte rouge
Common Names in Galician:
Common Names in German:
Common Names in Guarani:
Common Names in Haitian Creole French:
Common Names in Irish:
Common Names in Italian:
Common Names in Japanese:
Common Names in Latin:
Common Names in Lithuanian:
Common Names in Manx:
Common Names in Norwegian:
Common Names in Polish:
Common Names in Portuguese:
Common Names in Portuguese (Brazil):
Common Names in Slovak:
Common Names in Slovenian:
Common Names in Spanish:
Aura, Aura Gallipavo, Zopilote aura
Common Names in Spanish (Argentine):
Jote Cabeza Colorada
Common Names in Spanish (Costa Rica):
Common Names in Spanish (Cuba):
Common Names in Spanish (Dominican Republic):
Common Names in Spanish (Honduras):
Common Names in Spanish (Mexico):
Common Names in Spanish (Nicaragua):
Common Names in Spanish (Paraguay):
Cuervo Cabeza Roja
Common Names in Spanish (Uruguay):
Cuervo Cabeza Roja
Common Names in Swedish:
Common Names in Turkish:
Adult : Head : featherless, with red skin Face : Cere: red Eye Color: brown Bill: whitish Legs : Leg Color: flesh-yellow to whitish Wings : Shape : long and narrow Tail: Length : long Shape: narrow.Basic: Wings: Shape: long and narrow Tail: Length: long Shape: narrow.Young: Head: blackish Face: Cere: red Eye Color: brown Bill: whitish Legs: Leg Color: grayish Wings: Shape: long and narrow Tail: Length: long Shape: narrow.
: Red head
· Yellowish bill · Reddish legs
Immature : Gray head · Gray bill · Gray legs
Size: 69 cm (27 in) in length ; 175 cm (69 in) wingspan.
Vegetation: arid lowland scrubs, pastures and agricultural lands, tropical deciduous forests, gallery forests, tropical lowland evergreen forest, second-growth forests and woodlands, tropical lowland evergreen forest, pine forests, arid lowland scrubs, low seasonally wet grasslands • Maximum Elevation: 2,500 meters • Foraging Strata: Aerial • Center of Abundance: Lower tropical: lowlands, lower than 500 m.; tropics. • Sensitivity to Disturbance: Low
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 4,622 meters (0 to 15,164 feet).
List of Habitats
- 1 Forest
- 1.4 Forest - Temperate
- 1.5 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 1.6 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
- 1.9 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
- 3 Shrubland
- 3.5 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 4 Grassland
- 4.6 Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded
- 8 Desert
- 8.1 Desert - Hot
- 14 Artificial/Terrestrial
- 14.2 Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
- 14.6 Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest
This species is a carrion feeder , eating almost any type of dead animal. It can be commonly seen on the roadside eating vehicle-killed animals. The Turkey Vulture uses both sight and scent to find its food. This species also creates large communal roosts, with many birds gathering in the same tree or group of trees in the evening.
The breeding season
begins in March, peaks from April to May, and
extends into June. This species will nest
in a variety of habitats
but usually in wooded areas. Nest sites include the ground
, on a cliff
, on a ledge, in a shed, or in a barn. No nest
is built and eggs
are usually laid on the ground, rocks, or other
substrate. The female lays
1-3 (usually 2) eggs that she and the
male incubate for 38-41 days. The young are semi-altricial and are
cared for by the adults
for 66-88 days after they hatch
. For the
first five days after they hatch, the young are brooded continuously
by the adults
Clutch Size: 2 Length of Incubation : 38-41 days Days to Fledge : 66-88 Number of Broods: 1
Short distance migrant
Though its dining habits are less than elegant, the vulture is an expert in using air currents and its physique to find carrion . It must search a great deal of territory to find a dead or dying creature for a meal . The vulture is too big to fly long distances efficiently by flapping its wings . Instead, it lets air currents and its large wingspan work for it. Rising columns of air, called thermals, are particularly useful. When one bird finds a good thermal and is climbing successfully, other birds often join, and soon the group can be seen circling around a common axis. It behooves the vulture to fly in steady circles of the smallest diameter, so it can stay near the center of the thermal core where the lift is the strongest. When a height of several hundred meters is attained, the vulture can leave the thermal and glide off, slowly descending , constantly searching the terrain. If a possible meal is sighted, the vulture can reach that point quickly by pouring its efforts into a steep dive. The steeper the angle , the faster the bird travels. He is often able to beat four-footed scavengers to the prey .
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- Gauthier, 1986
- (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Pycraft, 1900
- Superorder: Falconimorphae () - Seebohm, 1890
- Cohort: Neognathae () - Pycraft, 1900
- Infraclass: Aves () - (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Subclass: Avialae () - Gauthier, 1986
- Class: Aves ()
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Cathartes aura (Linnaeus, 1758)
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 17-Oct-2001
The most similar species to the Turkey Vulture is the Black Vulture.
The Black Vulture has a black bald head. Most of the Black Vulture
wing appears black, except a few of the outer flight feathers which
create large white-appearing patches near the outer edges of the
wings. The wings of the Black Vulture are shorter and broader, and
the tail is also shorter.
The Black Vulture is also dark with an unfeathered head, but has a much differet shape in flight. It is short-winged, short-tailed, and intersperses glides on flat wings with quick, snappy wingbeats. Turkey Vultures lack the white patch at the wingtips and show contrast between paler flight feathers and darker coverts. Bald and Golden eagles are both superficially similar, but fly on flat wings, have feathered heads, and do not have contrastingly gray flight feathers. The Zone-tailed Hawk in the Southwest has a similar shape and flight style, but has a feathered head and white bands on a black tail.
Members of the genus Cathartes
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 11 species and subspecies in this genus:
(Turkey Vulture) · (Turkey Vulture (Northern)) · C. aura falklandicus (Falkland Turkey Vulture) · (Turkey Vulture (South Temperate)) · C. aura meridionalis (Turkey Vulture) · (Turkey Vulture (Tropical)) · (Turkey Vulture) · C. aura teter (Turkey Vulture) · (Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture) · (Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture) · (Greater Yellow-Headed Vulture)
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- The book of woodcraft and Indian lore, with over 500 drawings by the author, Ernest Thompson Seton. .. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Page & Company, 1922. url p. 252.
- The book of woodcraft, Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Page & company, 1912. url p. 336.
- The book of woodcraft. .. New York, The Sun dial press, inc. url p. 252.
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- The effect of altered streamflow on migratory birds of the Yellowstone River Basin, Montana / by Tom Hinz. Helena: Water Resources Division, Montana Dept. of Natural Resources & Conservation, 1977. url p. 101.
- The fundus oculi of birds, especially as viewed by the ophthalmoscope; a study in the comparative anatomy and physiology, by Casey Albert Wood. Illustrated by 145 drawings in the text; also by sixty-one colored paintings prepared for this work by Arthur W. Head. .. Chicago, The Lakeside Press, 1917. url p. 62.
- The hawks of the Canadian prairie provinces in their relation to agriculture, by P. A. Taverner. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, 1918. url p. 2.
- The history of Upshur county, West Virginia, from its earliest exploration and settlement to the present time. .. Buckhannon?W. Va., pref.1907 url p. 367.
- The history of the collections contained in the natural history departments of the British Museum. by R. Bowdler Sharpe. London, 1906. url p. 378.
- The land-birds and game-birds of New England with descriptions of the birds, their nests and eggs, their habits and notes. Boston, Houghton, Mifflin, 1903. url .
- The naturalist of the Saint Croix. Memoir of George A. Boardman. A selection from his correspondence and published writings, notices of friends and contemporaries, with his list of the birds of Maine and New Brunswick. By Samuel Lane Boardman... Bangor, Priv. print., 1903. url p. 308, p. 308, p. 308.
- The nature and development of animal intelligence, London, T. F. Unwin, 1898. url p. 69.
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- The principles of biology, by J. I. Hamaker; with 267 illustations. Philadelphia, P. Blakiston, 1913. url p. 382.
- The raptorial birds of Iowa, by Bert Heald Bailey. .. Des Moines, Iowa Geological Survey, 1918. url p. 46, p. 49, p. 50.
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 05, 2008:
- Avian Knowledge Network: eBird
- Avian Knowledge Network: Great Backyard Bird Count
- Avian Knowledge Network: Hawk Migration Association of North America - HawkCount
- Avian Knowledge Network: Project FeederWatch
- Bird Studies Canada: BC Coastal Waterbird Survey
- Bird Studies Canada: Marsh Monitoring Program - Birds
- Bird Studies Canada: Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas 1981-1985
- Bird Studies Canada: Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas 2001-2005
- Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility: North West Territories and Nunavut Bird Checklist, Canada
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility: Ontario Nest Records
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility: Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada. Birds (Aves)
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility: Royal British Columbia Museum
- Canadian Museum of Nature: Canadian Museum of Nature Bird Collection
- GBIF-Sweden: Birds (GBIF-SE:Artdatabanken)
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University: Bay of Fundy Species List (OBIS Canada)
- Marine Science Institute, UCSB: Paleobiology Database
- Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University: MCZ Ornithology Collection
- Museum of Vertebrate Zoology: Terrestrial vertebrate specimens
- New Brunswick Museum: NBM birds
- Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History: Santa Barbara Musem of Natural History
- Senckenberg: Collection Aves (bird skins)
- Senckenberg: Collection Aves (spirit preserved)
- UNIBIO, IBUNAM: CNAV/Coleccion Nacional de Aves
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ): Bird specimens
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 8928
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-175265
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 2494459
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 175265
- IUCN ID: 198281
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: ABNKA02010
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 907