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.



 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.