Turkey Vulture

STATUSLeast Concern

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Cathartes aura

DIETCarrion; occasional live prey such as young birds or mammals; plant material including pumpkins, coconuts, juniper berries, and grapes

RANGENorth and South America

HABITATOpen areas and a wide variety of habitats

Turkey Vulture

Turkey vultures are found throughout North America and South America. They are often found around open areas in a wide variety of habitats. In North America, the turkey vulture is the only vulture with a highly developed sense of smell and can smell carrion less than 12-24 hours old.

Black vultures are a more aggressive species. They will often follow turkey vultures and displace the turkey vulture from carrion. Vultures prefer meat as fresh as possible and will not eat extremely rotted carcasses.

Diet : Turkey Vultures feed almost entirely on carrion and human garbage. Although rare, they do occasionally catch live prey, including young or sick birds and mammals. Vultures also eat plant material including pumpkins, coconuts, juniper berries, and grapes.

Fun Fact: Their Latin name, Carthartes aura, means “cleaning breeze.”