Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura.|
These vultures are BIG, with wing spans commonly five feet. Though they are nearly as large as an eagle - they hold their wings in a distinctive slight v-shape, seldom flapping their wings, as they're gliding along. The underside of their feathers is marked by the contrast between their silvery-gray flight feathers and the dark brown linings around the shoulders. Adults have red heads and a white bill, while juveniles have gray-brown coloring. They are often seen in open wooded areas or fields, looking to scavange a meal. Distinctive traits of the vultures are their featherless heads which are an assest when it comes to scavanging and consuming carion - believe me, you wouldn't want to stick your head into that if you had a bunch of nice feathers on your head (making the after-dinner clean-up so much easier). Unlike other large birds, vultures do not build nests, but rather lay their eggs under natural sheltered areas, rock crevices or in hollowed logs.
Adapted from National Geographic Society's Field Guide to Birds of North America, 2nd edition, 1987.
© 1994-1999 Tara Prindle.