Turkey Vulture

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Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
a. Habitat and Size
Turkey Vultures can be found year round in
Kentucky
 They nest in highly secluded areas on rock or in
trees
 They can often be seen along roadsides and
landfill
 Most Turkey Vultures are 25 – 32 inches long
with a wing span of 6 feet
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b. Raising Young
Turkey Vultures raise 1-3 babies a year
 Both parents share in the incubating process
 Incubation last 38-41 days
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c. Food
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Turkey Vultures live primarily on carrion –
dead or putrefying flesh
Turkey Vultures find their food by their
excellent sense of smell
They prefer freshly dead animals and have
excellent immune systems
Many Turkey Vultures surround carrion at one
time, but only one vulture eats at a time
Turkey Vultures rarely attack live prey
d. Cool Facts
The part of the vultures brain for processing
smell is larger compared to other birds
 Not all see vultures as creepy – many see them
as scared for their clean up role

Bald Head: is a matter of hygiene, the Turkey
Vulture must stick its head inside of the carcass
it is eating. With a feathery head bacteria and
pieces of the carcass would stick to the bird’s
head
e. Voice
Do not have voice boxes – they can only hiss
and grunt
 Hisses are heard when they feel threatened and
grunts occur when young are hungry or with
adults during mating season
 Turkey Vultures gentle and non-aggressive
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f. Self Defense
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Turkey Vultures have few natural predators
When threaten Turkey Vultures throw up
Some believe the vultures do this to lighten their
weight for an escape flight
Others say vultures do this because often times
the predator with eat the regurgitated meat
instead of attacking the bird
Turkey Vulture’s urine contains high levels of
acid, they will often urinate on their legs to kill
bacteria
g. Flight
Turkey Vultures fly with their wings in a
shallow V shape
 Vultures can soar for hours without flapping
their wings – flapping is usually seen before
take off and during landing
 It is widely thought that vultures circle because
of the presents of a future meal
 However, vulture circle in order to gain altitude
on pockets of raising warm air
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h. Protection
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The Turkey Vulture is protected under the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 – it is illegal
to kill them in the U.S.
i. Why are these birds protected?
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Turkey Vultures numbers declined in the 1950s
and 1960s, most likely due to contact with
pesticides
Vultures play a valuable role in nature
Vultures quickly remove dead carcasses from
nature, preventing the spread of disease
Keeping us all safe
This is why Turkey Vultures are considered to
be nature’s garbage man!

Click Here to See an Educational Video
regarding Turkey Vultures from Raptor
Rehab
Sources
"Animal Fact Sheets." Turkey Vulture Fact Sheet. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.zoo.org/animalfacts/turkeyvulture>.
Denapple1. "RR2 12." YouTube. YouTube, 05 Oct. 2010. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G0g9Y6n0yk>.
"Turkey Vulture - Birding Identifications." Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
<http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/peterson/resources/identifications/tuvu/index.shtml>.
"Turkey Vulture." Home. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.peregrinefund.org/subsites/explore-raptors2001/vultures/turkevul.html>.
"Turkey Vulture." National Geographic. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
<http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birding/turkey-vulture/>.
"Turkey Vulture." Patuxent-Migratory Bird Research. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.mbrpwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i3250id.html>.
"The Turkey Vulture Society." The Turkey Vulture Society. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
<http://vulturesociety.homestead.com/index.html>.
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