Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura

Big Sky Country icon

Big Sky Country

Back To Animals


Lacking the strong grasping talons needed for killing live prey, turkey vultures eat carrion, the flesh of dead animals. Vultures spend hours soaring over the countryside, with their long wings held in a shallow "V" while tilting from side to side. Excellent eyesight and a well-developed sense of smell are used to locate carcasses on the ground. Despite an unseemly diet, these scavengers are remarkably hygienic in design. Their trademark bare heads and necks are easier than feathers to keep clean after a meal. In the morning, vultures bask in the sun with outstretched wings. The black color of their feathers absorbs sunlight, warming their bodies and killing bacteria. Turkey vultures are normally silent, but will hiss and grunt if disturbed. When threatened, they also regurgitate recently eaten food to help drive off the intruder while reducing their weight for a speedy takeoff.

Our Animal's Story

Our two turkey vultures were injured in the wild and each suffered a fractured wing. We received one from a wildlife rehabilitator in western PA in 2013. The other turkey vulture arrived in 2014 from a wildlife rehabilitator in Connecticut. Since they were wild birds, their ages are unknown.

silhouette of mountain range