Nature Journal
with Photos

Turkey Vulture Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
General Information
- Sexes similar
- Very large, broad-winged, soaring bird
- Long and rounded tail
- Longish, hooked bill
- Rather short, thick legs
- Holds wings in a dihedral angle while soaring and gliding
- Spends most time soaring, infrequent flaps are slow and laborious
- Small, unfeathered head
- Plumage dark brown except for paler flight feathers, appearing black and gray
- Immature like adult

- Red head
- Yellowish bill
- Reddish legs

- Gray head
- Gray bill
- Gray legs

Similar species
The Black Vulture is also dark with an unfeathered head, but has a much different 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.
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