are turkey vultures birds of prey

A.K.A. T.V., Turkey Buzzard

Field marks: Large, dark brown, small-headed, heavy-bodied bird that eats carrion; underwings are two-toned and the tail is somewhat long. wings raised in a powerful dihedral, or “V,” above the horizontal ”.

Behavior during flight: Usually migrates in groups of up to hundreds of birds. Soars extensively on migration. Often rocks from side to side while soaring. Rarely flaps. Utilizes thermals; migrates infrequently in the early morning or late afternoon Local populations present through early December.

Of all the vultures found in the New World, turkey vultures are the most common. They cover the majority of the Americas, extending from southern Canada through the continental United States, Mexico, Central America, and most of South America, and ending at Tierra del Fuego at Argentina’s southernmost point. Turkey vulture populations from the north migrate south to spend the winter in Mexico, Central America, and American coastal regions. If you are in the right place during migration season, you may be able to see waves upon waves of thousands of Turkey Vultures, as well as other raptors and vulture species, floating across the sky toward warmer climates.

In North America during the 1950s and 1960s, Turkey Vultures, like numerous other wildlife species, suffered due to the usage of DDT pesticide. Use of the chemical was banned in 1972. Today, the population is stable and even increasing. They are widespread and common throughout the Americas, and there is evidence that they are moving further north. This may be due to climate change or the fact that they can survive in environments that have been altered by humans, which may now offer them more food sources than they did in the past.

In Idaho, the summer is the greatest season to see turkey vultures. These big birds are among the easiest to locate and recognize. The Peregrine Funds World Center for Birds of Prey is only a short drive away from the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, where you can witness them soar through the open skies.

They frequently fly low over an area while looking for food, using their keen sense of smell and vision to locate food. Since vultures are social feeders, several vulture species may band together to share a big carcass. Ravens and eagles, among other scavenger birds, may also attend the feast.

Apart from their bald heads, Turkey Vultures possess additional distinctive adaptations. Turkey Vultures occasionally urinate on their own legs as a means of staying cool. This behavior is known as “urohydrosis,” and it serves two purposes. First of all, Turkey Vultures require a means of cooling off in hot weather since they do not perspire like humans do. Their legs’ urine has a cooling effect as it evaporates. Secondly, the characteristics of their urine may aid in eliminating any bacteria that they may have walked in and brought home from their dinner. Even though it looks disgusting to us, it actually keeps the vultures sanitary.

What Size is a Turkey Vulture?

  • comprise the seven species of New World Vultures that make up the family Cathartidae.
  • are called so because they resemble wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) with their red, featherless heads.
  • Even though they eat mostly dead animals, or carrion, they occasionally take live prey.
  • Are the most migratory of all vultures.
  • Their plumage is dark brown, not black.
  • Turkey vultures create a slight dihedral to help stabilize their flight in turbulent air by holding their wings in a “V” above their backs.
  • Often roost in groups of several hundred birds.
  • possess a keen sense of smell that allows them to locate carrion both visually and olfactory.
  • Communicate vocally in hisses and grunts.
  • Nestling Turkey Vultures projectile vomit to defend themselves.
  • Are unable to carry off their carrion.


Is a Turkey Vulture a predatory bird?

Turkey vultures eat mainly carrion, they are scavengers. Very rarely turkey vultures will kill and eat small animals, such as insects, lizards, or bird nestlings. Near humans they rely heavily on roadkill or dead domesticated animals.

Are turkey vultures good to have around?

Turkey Vultures play an important role in the health of our ecosystems. As nature’s clean-up crews, they help eliminate rotting carcasses, which helps control the spread of certain diseases and generally helps the air smell a lot better!

Do turkey vultures ever hunt live prey?

Turkey Vultures feed almost entirely on carrion and human garbage. Although on rare occasions Turkey Vultures catch live prey, including young or sick birds and mammals, Black Vultures kill live prey more frequently, and accounts of Turkey Vultures eating live prey often involve mistakenly identified Black Vultures.

Are vultures birds of prey or scavengers?

Vultures are scavengers, meaning that they eat dead animals. Outside of the oceans, vultures are the only known obligate scavengers. They rarely attack healthy animals, but may kill the wounded or sick. When a carcass has too thick a hide for its beak to open, it waits for a larger scavenger to eat first.