Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura (Mexican Indian name for TV is aurooua)
Prepared by: 
Bob Walton
  • Length: 25-40 inches
  • Wingspan: 70-79 inches
  • Weight: 850-2000 grams

Adults are brownish black with a slight iridescence.  The head and neck are bare with whitish warts and patches of bristles.  Skin color of head is variable from pink to bright red.  In flight, this bird has long wings and tail; it flies with upswept wings (dihedral). Immature vultures are duller and have dark gray head skin.

 

Subspecies: 
4 recognized: NA subspecies is C.a. septentrionalis (northern)
Distribution: 
US south through Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.
Habitat: 
Found in an extreme range of habitats from deserts through grasslands and savannas to tropical rainforest and temperate woodlands in NA
Feeding: 
A scavenger, rarely killing small prey. Greatly benefits from roadkills, which may explain its northern expansion. Locates prey by smell. Tends to pass over carcasses that are many days old to avoid toxic by-products of bacteria.
Breeding: 
Egg laying in May and June. Clutch size 2 eggs. Nests in shallow caves, onground in dense undergrowth, or in hollow tree stumps and logs. No nesting material.
Movements: 
Migratory. Fall migration October to southern US. Spring migration in late February and early March.
Status: 
Widespread and abundant.
Note: 
Turkey and other New World Vultures may be moved to the Order Ciconiidae (Storks) based on DNA findings.