Turkey Vulture

Range: North America through Central and South America. 

Habitat: Open areas, mixed farmland and rangeland, suburbs. You may see them hanging around landfills or along roadsides looking for a meal.

Diet: Carrion, or dead animals. Turkey vultures prefer freshly dead carcasses, but will take older carcasses that are easier to penetrate the skin on.

Longevity: 10-15 years in the wild, over 30 years in human care.


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Buzz

 Being shot in the wing, Buzz was left with minimal flight ability and came to Turtle Bay in 2004.


Fun Facts

  • Turkey vultures are the only vulture species with a good sense of smell. Other vultures, including the Black vulture, will often follow Turkey Vultures to find a meal. 
  • Vultures have a bare head and legs to keep clean while dining on carcasses, and are often seen sunning themselves in the morning or after a meal. The ultraviolet rays help to kill any other bacteria.
  • Turkey vultures are able to consume bacteria and viruses that would cause death to any other animal, including botulism, anthrax, and salmonella, thanks to their fantastic immune system.
  • A group of circling vultures is called a kettle. This does not mean there is a carcass around, but instead is a method of travel. As thermals, or warm air currents, move upwards from the Earth, the vulture’s broad wings catch them and carry them upwards. 
  • Turkey vultures have a good defense mechanism- projectile vomit!
  • To stay cool during the summer, they urinate down their legs.