Our resident turkey vulture arrived from a rehab facility near Nashville, TN in November 2007 after being found grounded. She had an old fracture in her left wing which was re-broken and pinned but did not heal straight enough to be capable of flight. Her age is unknown. She lives in the Wildlife Wanderland with the black vulture and enjoys a varied diet of meats and fish.
Prefers open areas such as fields, meadows, fishing docks, areas of mixed farmland and forest, and along road sides. Roost in large trees or on large urban buildings.
Length 25 - 32 in
Wingspan 67 - 72 in
Weight 3.5 - 6 lbs
Overall black with brownish tones especially on the feather edges, legs are dark red to pinkish, head is un-feathered with reddish colored skin which contrasts with the ivory bill and dark feather ruff around the neck. Wings are held in a dihedral pattern giving them a ‘V’ shape while in flight. Underside of the trailing edge of the wings are lighter in color.
Often silent, sometimes hisses.
Wide variety of carrion, from small mammals to dead cows. Will also eat some insects, other invertebrates, and some fruit. The Turkey Vulture is unique among North American vultures due to their incredible sense of smell. Black vultures often bully the Turkey Vultures off the carrion.
1 - 3 pale gray-greenish blotched eggs. Eggs are laid on the ground or on a cliff from January to July.
Up to 20 years in the wild; Up to 24 years in captivity.
- When threatened, a vulture will vomit powerful stomach acids which possess an awful smell. Vultures often defecate on their legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces as a cool down method.
- Vultures have little feathering on their heads giving a bald appearance. This prevents carrion from sticking on the heads and causing infections!
- Turkey Vultures use their sense of smell to locate carrion. The olfactory system is larger than normal in birds. This allows them to detect carrion below a forest canopy.