Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture
(Cathartes aura)

Order:  Cathartiformes
Family:  Cathartidae

Photo © Don DesJardin

Turkey Vulture Information

Length:  25 - 32"

Habitat:  In the Northeast, deciduous and mixed forests, rocky mountainous areas. Prefers habitat adjacent to open country such as farmlands.

Diet:  lmost entirely carrion, including that of small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish; occasionally, carrion of larger animals; small amounts of vegetable matter.

  Sounds of the Turkey Vulture

Additional photos and information

Turkey Vulture
Habitat, diet, feeding behavior, nesting, migration, and conservation status of this bird. Includes range map, photos, and songs and calls. (From Audubon Field Guide)

Photo of Turkey Vulture in flight
From Mike Danzenbaker's Bird Photography

Turkey Vulture
Identification Tips

  • Wingspan: 72 inches
  • 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
  • Red head
  • Yellowish bill
  • Reddish legs

(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)

Breeding Bird Survey Map,

Turkey Vulture Breeding Map

(Image credit: USGS)

Winter Map from eBird

Sightings of the Turkey Vulture Nov-Mar over last 10 years

Christmas Bird Count Map

Historical CBC Map from USGS