Habitat & Range
Turkey vultures (also commonly referred to as “buzzards”) are found throughout North America; from as far north as southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America. They inhabit a variety of open and semi-open areas, including deserts, pastures, shrublands, and forests.
Turkey vultures have bald red heads and black plumage that resembles that of the male wild turkey. They are large birds, measuring as long as 32 inches, weighing as much as 5 pounds, and possessing wingspans as large as 6 feet.
Turkey vultures feed primarily on the bodies of dead animals, otherwise known as “carrion.” Very rarely will a turkey vulture kill its own prey. Vultures use their keen smelling ability to find carrion. This trait is uncommon among birds. Vultures will also look for signs of other groups, either in decent or gathered on the ground, which may indicate the location of food.
Reproduction & Lifespan
Turkey vultures will build their nests in a protected location such as a cliff, cave, crevice, or hollow tree. Female turkey vultures lay up to 2 eggs during the nesting period. Chicks are helpless at birth and are cared for by both parents for up to 11 weeks.
The average life expectancy is 16 years in the wild, and up to 30 years in captivity.
Fantastic Fact No Trespassing
A nesting turkey vulture that decides not to flee an approaching predator may pretend to be dead, or even throw up on the intruder!
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