Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

name = Turkey Vulture
status = LC
status_system = iucn3.1
status_ref =

regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = "Incertae sedis" (disputed)
familia = Cathartidae
genus = "Cathartes"
species = "C. aura"
binomial = "Cathartes aura"
binomial_authority = (Linnaeus, 1758)

range_map_caption =Approximate range/distribution map of the Turkey Vulture. Yellow indicates summer-only range, green indicates year-round range.

The Turkey Vulture, "Cathartes aura", also known in some North American regions as the Turkey Buzzard (or just "buzzard"), is a bird found throughout most of the Americas. One of three species in the genus "Cathartes", in the family Cathartidae, it is the most widespread of the New World vultures, ranging from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America. It inhabits a variety of open and semi-open areas, including subtropical forests, shrublands, pastures, and deserts. With a wingspan of 173–183 cm (68–72 in) and an average weight of 1.4 kg (3.1 lb), the Turkey Vulture is a large bird. It has dark brown to black plumage; a featherless, purplish-red head and neck; and a short, hooked, ivory-colored beak.

The Turkey Vulture is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion. It finds its meals using its sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gases produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead animals. In flight, it uses thermals to move through the air, flapping its wings infrequently. It roosts in large community groups. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets, each year generally raising two chicks, which it feeds by regurgitation. It has very few natural predators. In the United States of America, the vulture receives legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.


The Turkey Vulture received its common name from the resemblance of the adult's bald red head and its dark plumage to that of the male Wild Turkey, while the name "vulture" is derived from the Latin word "vulturus", meaning "tearer," and is a reference to its feeding habits. The word "buzzard" is used by North Americans to refer to this raptor, yet in the Old World this word refers to members of the genus "Buteo". [cite web
title =Turkey Vulture
work =Birds of Texas
publisher =Texas Parks & Wildlife
year =2001
url =http://www.passporttotexas.com/birds/oct00.html
accessdate = 2007-10-29
] The generic term "Cathartes" means "purifier" and is the Latinized form from the Greek "kathartēs"/καθαρτης. [ cite book|last=Liddell| first=Henry George|coauthor=Robert Scott|year=1980|title=Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged Edition |publisher=Oxford University Press|location= Oxford|isbn= 0-19-910207-4] The species name, "aura", is Latinized from the Native Mexican word for the bird, "auroura".cite book
last =Holloway
first =Joel Ellis
title =Dictionary of Birds of the United States: Scientific and Common Names
publisher =Timber Press
year =2003
pages =59
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=41knpiVqnKYC&pg=PA59&dq=Cathartes+aura+subject:%22Nature+/+Birds+%26+Birdwatching%22&as_brr=3&sig=YS_oepqlw59T9RxDny5KFtPliSQ
isbn =0881926000
] The Turkey Vulture was first formally described by Linnaeus as "Vultur aura" in his "Systema Naturae" in 1758, and characterised as "V. fuscogriseus, remigibus nigris, rostro albo" ("brown-gray vulture, with black wings and a white beak"). [la icon cite book | last=Linnaeus | first=Carolus | authorlink=Carolus Linnaeus | title=Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. | publisher=Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii). | year=1758| pages= p86] It is a member of the family Cathartidae, along with the other six species of New World vultures, and included in the genus "Cathartes", along with the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture and the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture.

The exact taxonomic placement of the Turkey Vulture and the remaining six species of New World Vultures remains unclear. Though both are similar in appearance and have similar ecological roles, the New World and Old World Vultures evolved from different ancestors in different parts of the world. Just how different the two are is currently under debate, with some earlier authorities suggesting that the New World vultures are more closely related to storks. [Sibley, Charles G. and Burt L. Monroe. 1990. " [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0300049692 Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World] ". Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-04969-2. Accessed 2007-04-11.] More recent authorities maintain their overall position in the order Falconiformes along with the Old World Vultures [Sibley, Charles G., and Jon E. Ahlquist. 1991. " [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0300040857 Phylogeny and Classification of Birds: A Study in Molecular Evolution] ". Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-04085-7. Accessed 2007-04-11.] or place them in their own order, Cathartiformes. [Ericson, Per G. P.; Anderson, Cajsa L.; Britton, Tom; Elżanowski, Andrzej; Johansson, Ulf S.; Kallersjö, Mari; Ohlson, Jan I.; Parsons, Thomas J.; Zuccon, Dario & Mayr, Gerald (2006): Diversification of Neoaves: integration of molecular sequence data and fossils. "Biology Letters" online: 1-5. DOI|10.1098/rsbl.2006.0523 [http://www.systbot.uu.se/staff/c_anderson/pdf/neoaves.pdf PDF preprint] [http://royalsociety.metapress.com/media/public/contributionsupplementalmaterials/0/5/8/3/058352377848735w/archive1.pdf Electronic Supplementary Material] (PDF)] The South American Classification Committee has removed the New World Vultures from Ciconiiformes and instead placed them in "Incertae sedis", but notes that a move to Falconiformes or Cathartiformes is possible.Remsen, J. V., Jr.; C. D. Cadena; A. Jaramillo; M. Nores; J. F. Pacheco; M. B. Robbins; T. S. Schulenberg; F. G. Stiles; D. F. Stotz & K. J. Zimmer. 2007. [http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.html "A classification of the bird species of South America."] South American Classification Committee. Retrieved on 2007-10-15]

There are five subspecies of Turkey Vulture:
*"C. a. aura" is the nominate subspecies. It is found from Mexico south through South America and the Greater Antilles. This subspecies occasionally overlaps its range with other subspecies. It is the smallest of the subspecies but is nearly indistinguishable from "C. a. meridionalis" in color.
*"C. a. jota", the Chilean Turkey Vulture, is larger, browner, and slightly paler than "C. a. ruficollis". The secondary feathers and wing coverts may have gray margins.cite book
last = Blake, Emmet Reid
title =Birds of Mexico: A Guide for Field Identification
publisher =University of Chicago Press
year =1953
pages =267
url =http://books.google.com/books?id=YP0AX3LW8jYC&dq=
ibsn= 0226056414
*"C. a. meridionalis", the Western Turkey Vulture, is a synonym for "C. a. teter". "C. a. teter" was identified as a subspecies by Friedman in 1933, but in 1964 Alexander Wetmore separated the western birds, which took the name "meridionalis", which was applied earlier to a migrant from South America. It breeds from southern Manitoba, southern British Columbia, central Alberta and Saskatchewan south to Baja California, south-central Arizona, and south-central Texas. [cite book
last =Peters J. L.; Mayr E.& Cottrell,W.
title =Check-list of Birds of the World
publisher =Museum of Comparative Zoology
year =1979
pages =276
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=RNA9AAAAIAAJ&q=
] It is the most migratory subspecies, migrating as far as South America, where it overlaps the range of the smaller "C. a. aura". It differs from the Eastern Turkey Vulture in color, as the edges of the lesser wing coverts are darker brown and narrower.
*"C. a. ruficollis" is found in Panama south through Uruguay and Argentina. It is also found on the island of Trinidad. It is darker and more black than "C. a. aura", with brown wing edgings which are narrower or absent altogether.cite book
last = Brown, Leslie & Amadon, Dean
title =Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons of the World
publisher =McGraw-Hill
year =1968
pages =175
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=fcM9AAAAIAAJ&q=
] The head and neck are dull red with yellow-white or green-white markings. Adults generally have a pale yellow patch on the crown of the head.
*"C. a. septentrionalis" is known as the Eastern Turkey Vulture. The Eastern and Western Turkey Vultures differ in tail and wing proportions. It ranges from southeastern Canada south through the eastern United States. It is less migratory than "C. a. meridionalis" and rarely migrates to areas south of the United States.Citation| last = Amadon| first = Dean| title = Notes on the Taxonomy of Vultures| journal = Condor| volume = 79 | issue =4| pages = 413–416| year = 1977 | url =http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Condor/files/issues/v079n04/p0413-p0416.pdf| doi = 10.2307/1367720 ]


The typical adult Turkey Vulture is from 66–81 cm (26–32 in) long with a 173–183 cm (68–72 in) wingspan and a weight of 1.4 kg (3.1 lb).cite book
last =Hilty
first =Stephen L.
title =A Guide to the Birds of Colombia
publisher =Princeton University Press
year =1977
pages =87
url =http://books.google.com/books?id=1k5fV_hQqE8C&pg=PA88&dq=
isbn =069108372X
] It displays minimal sexual dimorphism; sexes are identical in plumage and in coloration, although the female is slightly larger. [cite journal
last =Hill
first =N. P.
title =Sexual Dimorphism in the Falconiformes
journal =Auk
volume = 61
issue =April
pages =228
year =1944
url =http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v061n02/p0228-p0234.pdf
accessdate = 2007-10-14
] The body feathers are mostly brownish-black, but the flight feathers on the wings appear to be silvery-gray beneath, contrasting with the darker wing linings.cite book
last =Hilty
first =Stephen L.
title =A Guide to the Birds of Colombia
publisher =Princeton University Press
year =1977
pages =88
url =http://books.google.com/books?id=1k5fV_hQqE8C&pg=PA88&dq=Cathartes+melambrotus&as_brr=0&sig=tFHSOoZQy1Tc2nFxnoV3f8lj2Cs
isbn =069108372X
] The adult's head is small in proportion to its body and is red in color with few to no feathers. It also has a relatively short, hooked, ivory-colored beak.cite book| last =Terres| first =J. K.| authorlink =John Kenneth Terres| title =The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds| publisher =Knopf| year =1980| location =New York, NY| pages = 959| isbn = 0394466519 ] The irises of the eyes are gray-brown; legs and feet are pink-skinned, although typically stained white. The eye has a single incomplete row of eyelashes on the upper lid and two rows on the lower lid.Citation| last = Fisher| first = Harvey I.| title = The Pterylosis of the Andean Condor | journal = Condor| volume = 44 | issue = 1| pages = 30–32| date = Fabruary| year = 1942| url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-5422%28194201%2F02%2944%3A1%3C30%3ATPOTAC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-1&size=LARGE&origin=JSTOR-enlargePage| doi = 10.2307/1364195]

The two front toes of the foot are long and have small webs at their bases. Tracks are large, between 3.75 and 5.5 inches in length (9.5-14 cm) and 3.25 and 4 inches in width (8.2-10.2 cm), both measurements including claw marks. Toes are arranged in the classic, anisodactyl pattern.cite book
last =Elbroch
first =Mark
title =Bird Tracks & Sign
publisher =Stackpole Books
year =2001
location =Mechanicsburg, PA
pages =456
isbn = ISBN 0811726967
] The feet are flat, relatively weak, and poorly adapted to grasping; the talons are also not designed for grasping, as they are relatively blunt.cite web
title =2007
work =Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
publisher =Encyclopædia Britannica
url =http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9075791/vultures#citation
accessdate = 2007-10-14
] In flight, the tail is long and slim, in contrast to that of the Black Vulture. The nostrils are not divided by a septum, but rather are perforate; from the side one can see through the beak. [cite book| last =Allaby| first =Michael|title =The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Zoology| publisher =Oxford University Press| year =1992| location =Oxford, UK| pages =348| isbn = ISBN 0192860933] It undergoes a molt in late winter to early spring. It is a gradual molt, which lasts until early autumn. The immature bird has a gray head with a black beak tip; the colors change to those of the adult as the bird matures. [cite web
title =Turkey Vulture
publisher =Cornell Lab of Ornithology
year =2003
url =http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Turkey_Vulture_dtl.html
accessdate = 2007-09-30
] The Turkey Vulture may live as long as 21 years in captivity, with the oldest wild captured banded bird being 16 years old.

Leucistic (sometimes mistakenly called "albino") Turkey Vultures are sometimes seen. [Citation
last =Kirk
first =D. A.
last2 =Mossman
first2 =M. J.
contribution =Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
year =1998
title =The Birds of North America
editor-last =A. Poole and F. Gill
volume =339
place=Philadelphia, PA.
publisher =The Birds of North America, Inc.
id =
] The well-documented records come from the United States of America, but this probably reflects the fact that such birds are more commonly reported by birders there, rather than a geographical variation. Even in the United States, white Turkey Vultures (although they presumably always turned up every now and then) were only discussed in birder and raptor conservation circles and are not scientifically studied. [Golden Gate Raptor Observatory: " [http://www.ggro.org/rare-raptors.html Rare Raptors] ". Retrieved 2007-09-17.]

The Turkey Vulture, like most other vultures, has very few vocalization capabilities. Because it lacks a syrinx, it can only utter hisses and grunts.cite journal
last = Miskimen
first = Mildred
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Absence of Syrinx in the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes Aura)
journal = The Auk
volume = 74
issue = 1
pages = 104–105
publisher =
month = January | year = 1957
url = http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v074n01/p0104-p0105.pdf
doi =
id =
accessdate = 2006-10-24
] It usually hisses when it feels threatened. Grunts are commonly heard from hungry young and from adults in their courtship display.

Distribution and habitat

The Turkey Vulture has a large range, with an estimated global occurrence of 28,000,000 km². It is the most abundant vulture in the Americas. Its global population is estimated to be 4,500,000 individuals.cite web | title = Species factsheet: Cathartes aura | author= | publisher =BirdLife International | url =http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/49648/all | accessdate = 2007-10-13] It is found in open and semi-open areas throughout the Americas from southern Canada to Cape Horn. It is a permanent resident in the southern United States, though northern birds may migrate as far south as South America.cite web
last =Attwood,
first =E
title ="Cathartes aura"
publisher =University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
url =http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Cathartes_aura.html
accessdate = 2007-09-30
] The Turkey Vulture is widespread over open country, subtropical forests, shrublands, deserts, and foothills. It is also found in pastures, grasslands, and wetlands. It is most commonly found in relatively open areas which provide nearby woods for nesting and it generally avoids heavily forested areas.

Ecology and behavior

The Turkey Vulture is gregarious and roosts in large community groups, breaking away to forage independently during the day. Several hundred vultures may roost communally in groups which sometimes even include Black Vultures. It roosts on dead, leafless trees; though it nests in caves, it does not enter them except during the breeding season. The Turkey Vulture lowers its night-time body temperature by about 6 °C (11 °F) to convert|34|C|F, becoming slightly hypothermic.cite book
last =Feduccia
first =J. Alan
title =The Origin and Evolution of Birds
publisher =Yale University Press
year =1999
pages =116
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=8QRKV7eSqmIC&pg=PA300&dq=Cathartes+melambrotus+%2B+black&as_brr=0&ie=ISO-8859-1&sig=BjxPgGtWEdfcd3N3O9WBACwOiDk#PPA300,M1
isbn =0226056414

This vulture is often seen standing in a spread-winged stance. The stance is believed to serve multiple functions: drying the wings, warming the body, and baking off bacteria. It is practiced more often following damp or rainy nights. This same behavior is displayed by other New World vultures, by Old World vultures, and by storks. Like storks, the Turkey Vulture often defecates on its own legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces and/or urine to cool itself, a process known as urohydrosis. [cite web | last = Ridenhou | first = Larry | title = NCA - Turkey Vulture | work = Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area | publisher = Bureau of Land Management | url = http://www.birdsofprey.blm.gov/nat-res/tv.htm | accessdate = 2006-12-17 ] It cools the blood vessels in the unfeathered tarsi and feet, and causes white uric acid to streak the legs. [cite book
last =Gordon
first =Malcolm S.
title =Animal Physiology: Principles and Adaptations
publisher =Macmillan
year =1977
pages =357
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=G7o0AAAAMAAJ&dq=&pgis=1
isbn =

The Turkey Vulture has few natural predators. Its primary form of defense is regurgitating semi-digested meat, a foul-smelling substance which deters most creatures intent on raiding a vulture nest.cite book
last = Fergus, Charles
title =Wildlife of Virginia and Maryland Washington D.C.
publisher =Stackpole Books
year =2003
url= http://books.google.com/books?id=W7UxSPd2XMAC&dq
isbn = 0811728218
] It will also sting if the predator is close enough to get the vomit in its face or eyes. In some cases, the vulture must rid its crop of a heavy, undigested meal in order to take flight to flee from a potential predator.

The Turkey Vulture is awkward on the ground with an ungainly, hopping walk. It requires a great deal of effort to take flight, flapping its wings while pushing off the ground and hopping with its feet. While soaring, the Turkey Vultures holds its wings in a shallow V-shape and often tips from side to side, frequently causing the gray flight feathers to appear silvery as they catch the light. The flight of the Turkey Vulture is an example of static soaring flight, in which it flaps its wings very infrequently, and takes advantage of rising thermals to stay soaring.cite web
title =Turkey vulture, "Cathartes aura"
publisher =U.S. Geological Survey
url =http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i3250id.html
accessdate = 2007-09-30


The Turkey Vulture feeds primarily on a wide variety of carrion, from small mammals to large grazers, preferring those recently dead, and avoiding carcasses that have reached the point of putrefaction. It may rarely feed on plant matter, shoreline vegetation, pumpkin and other crops, live insects and other invertebrates.. In South America, it is known to feed on the fruits of the introduced Oil Palm. [Pinto, O. M. O., Dos frutos da palmeira Elaeis guineensisna dieta de Cathartes aura ruficollis. Hornero 8:276-277, 1965; Mauro Galetti & Paulo R. Guimarães Jr., "Seed dispersal of Attalea phalerata (Palmae) by Crested caracaras (Caracaraplancus) in the Pantanal and a review of frugivory by raptors", "Ararajuba" 12 (2):133-135,December 2004; avaliable at www.ararajuba.org.br/sbo/ararajuba/artigos/Volume122/ara122not1.pdf] It rarely, if ever, kills prey itself.cite book
last =Kritcher
first =John C.
title =A Neotropical Companion
publisher =Princeton University Press
year =1999
pages =286
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=Z3pgdvrSmG8C&dq=Cathartes+aura+%2B+kill
isbn =0691009740
] The Turkey Vulture can often be seen along roadsides feeding on roadkill, or near bodies of water, feeding on washed-up fish. It also will feed on fish or insects which have become stranded in shallow water. Like other vultures, it plays an important role in the ecosystem by disposing of carrion which would otherwise be a breeding ground for disease.

The Turkey Vulture forages by smell, an ability that is uncommon in the avian world. It often will fly low to the ground to pick up the scent of ethyl mercaptan, a gas produced by the beginnings of decay in dead animals. The olfactory lobe of its brain, responsible for processing smells, is particularly large compared to that of other animals.cite book
last = Snyder, Noel F. R. and Helen Snyder
title =Raptors of North America: Natural History and Conservation
publisher =Voyageur Press
year =2006
url= http://books.google.com/books?id=g6aOgkIbEwEC&pg=PA40&dq=Cathartes+aura&as_brr=3&sig=Zc-vwBBgjWSMDx56CatOgteVOtI#PPA40,M1
isbn = 0760325820
] This heightened ability to detect odors allows it to search for carrion below the forest canopy. King Vultures and Black Vultures, which lack the ability to smell carrion, follow the Turkey Vulture to carcasses. The Turkey Vulture arrives first at the carcass, or with Greater Yellow-headed Vultures or Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, which also share the ability to smell carrion. It displaces the Yellow-headed Vultures from carcasses due to its larger size,cite journal
last =Gomez, LG; Houston, DC; Cotton, P; Tye, A
title = The role of greater yellow-headed vultures Cathartes melambrotus as scavengers in neotropical forest
journal = Ibis
volume =136
issue =2
pages =193–196
publisher =
location =
year =1994
url =http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=ENV&recid=3646491&q=Cathartes+melambrotus&uid=791396595&setcookie=yes
accessdate = 2007-10-03
doi = 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1994.tb01084.x
] but is displaced in turn by the King Vulture, which makes the first cut into the skin of the dead animal. This allows the smaller, weaker-billed, Turkey Vulture access to food, because it cannot tear the tough hides of larger animals on its own. This is an example of mutual dependence between species.cite book
last =Muller-Schwarze
first =Dietland
title =Chemical Ecology of Vertebrates
publisher =Cambridge University Press
year =2006
url= http://books.google.com/books?id=HaaFlUw4goIC&pg=PA1&dq=%22Chemical+Ecology+of+Vertebrates+%22&sig=onv4c39uHCdcbBzm6a5iwyuSers
isbn = 0521363772


The breeding season of the Turkey Vulture commences in March, peaks in April to May, and continues into June.Clarifyme|date=March 2008cite web
title =Species Description: Turkey Vulture ("Cathartes aura")
publisher =Georgia Museum of Natural History
date =
url =http://dromus.nhm.uga.edu/~GMNH/gawildlife/index.php?page=speciespages/species_page&key=caura
accessdate = 2007-10-14
] Courtship rituals of the Turkey Vulture involve several individuals gathering in a circle, where they perform hopping movements around the perimeter of the circle with wings partially spread. In the air, one bird closely follows another while flapping and diving.cite book| last =Kaufman| first =Kenn| title =Lives of North American Birds| publisher =Houghton Mifflin FieldGuides| year =1996| pages = 112|url =http://books.google.com/books?id=JhJwsTkYkoIC&pg=PA112&dq=Cathartes+aura+%2B+nest&sig=HfdEcjgEeyQraZhcAxAyL7ogaEU| isbn =0618159886]

Eggs are generally laid in the nesting site in a protected location such as a cliff, a cave, a rock crevice, a burrow, inside a hollow tree, or in a thicket. There is little or no construction of a nest; eggs are laid on a bare surface. Females generally lay two eggs, but sometimes one and rarely three. The eggs are cream-colored, with brown or lavender spots around their larger end. Both parents incubate, and the young hatch after 30 to 40 days. Chicks are altricial, or helpless at birth. Both adults feed the chicks by regurgitating food for them, and care for them for 10 to 11 weeks. When adults are threatened while nesting, they may flee, or they may regurgitate on the intruder or feign death. If the chicks are threatened in the nest, they defend themselves by hissing and regurgitating. The young fledge at about nine to ten weeks. Family groups remain together until fall.

Relationship with humans

The Turkey Vulture is sometimes accused of carrying anthrax or hog cholera, both livestock diseases, on its feet or bill by cattle ranchers and is therefore occasionally perceived as a threat.Kirk, D. A., and M. J. Mossman. 1998. Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura). In The Birds of North America, No. 339 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.] However, the virus that causes hog cholera is destroyed when it passes through the Turkey Vulture's digestive tract. This species also may be perceived as a threat by farmers due to the similar Black Vulture's tendency to attack and kill newborn cattle. The Turkey Vulture does not kill live animals but will mix with flocks of Black Vultures and will scavenge what they leave behind. Nonetheless, its appearance at a location where a calf has been killed gives the incorrect impression that the Turkey Vulture represents a danger to calves as well. [cite web
last =Paulik
first =Laurie
title =Vultures and Livestock
publisher =AgNIC Wildlife Damage Management Web
date =2007-08-06
url =http://lib.colostate.edu/research/agnic/birds/vultures/vulturesandlivestock.html
accessdate = 2007-10-15
] The droppings produced by Turkey Vultures and other vultures can harm or kill trees and other vegetation. [cite web
last =Paulik
first =Laurie
title =Vultures
publisher =AgNIC Wildlife Damage Management Web
date =2007-08-06
url =http://lib.colostate.edu/research/agnic/birds/vultures/index.html
accessdate = 2007-10-15
] The Turkey Vulture can be held in captivity, though the Migratory Bird Treaty Act prevents this in the case of animals which are not injured or able to return to the wild. In captivity, it can be fed fresh meat, and younger birds will gorge themselves if given the opportunity.

The Turkey Vulture species receives special legal protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 in the United States,cite web
title =Birds Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
publisher =US Fish & Wildlife Service
url =http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/intrnltr/mbta/mbtandx.html
accessdate =2007-10-14
] by the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds in Canada,cite web
title = Game and Wild Birds: Preservation
work= US Code Collection
publisher =Cornell Law School
url =http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/search/display.html?terms=Mexico%20+%20bird&url=/uscode/html/uscode16/usc_sec_16_00000701----000-notes.html
accessdate =2007-10-29
] and by the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Game Mammals in Mexico. In the USA it is illegal to take, kill, or possess Turkey Vultures, and violation of the law is punishable by a fine of up to 15,000 US dollars and imprisonment of up to six months.cite web
title = Migratory Bird Treaty Act
work=US Code Collection
publisher =Cornell Law School
url =http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode16/usc_sup_01_16_10_7_20_II.html
accessdate =2007-10-14
] It is listed as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Populations appear to remain stable, and it has not reached the threshold of inclusion as a threatened species, which requires a decline of more than 30 percent in ten years or three generations.



* ffrench, F. "Birds of Trinidad and Tobago". ISBN 0-7136-6759-1
* Stiles and Skutch. "A guide to the birds of Costa Rica". ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
* Kirk, D. A. and M. J. Mossman. 1998. Turkey Vulture ("Cathartes aura"). In "The Birds of North America", No. 339 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

External links

* [http://vulturesociety.homestead.com/ The Turkey Vulture Society]
* [http://enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?allSpecies=y&searchText=turkey&curGroupID=1&lgfromWhere=&curPageNum=1 Turkey Vultures] on eNature.com
* [http://ibc.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/especie.phtml?idEspecie=562 Turkey Vulture videos] on the Internet Bird Collection

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Turkey vulture — Turkey Tur key, n.; pl. {Turkeys}. [So called because it was formerly erroneously believed that it came originally from Turkey: cf. F. Turquie Turkey. See {Turk}.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any large American gallinaceous bird belonging to the genus {Meleagris} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • turkey vulture — Turkey Tur key, n.; pl. {Turkeys}. [So called because it was formerly erroneously believed that it came originally from Turkey: cf. F. Turquie Turkey. See {Turk}.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any large American gallinaceous bird belonging to the genus {Meleagris} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • turkey vulture — n. a dark colored vulture (Cathartes aura) of temperate and tropical America, resembling a turkey in having a naked, reddish head: also called turkey buzzard …   English World dictionary

  • turkey vulture — a blackish brown vulture, Cathartes aura, from the southern U.S. to South America, having a bare, wrinkled, red head and neck. Also called turkey buzzard. See illus. under vulture. [1815 25, Amer.] * * * or turkey buzzard Species (Cathartes aura) …   Universalium

  • turkey vulture — paprastasis kalakutinis grifas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Cathartes aura angl. turkey vulture vok. Truthahngeier, m rus. гриф индейка, m; катарта индейка, f pranc. urubu à tête rouge, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas –… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • turkey vulture — noun a New World vulture that is common in South America and Central America and the southern United States • Syn: ↑buzzard, ↑turkey buzzard, ↑Cathartes aura • Hypernyms: ↑New World vulture, ↑cathartid • Member Holonyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • turkey vulture — noun Date: 1823 an American vulture (Cathartes aura) with a red head and whitish bill called also turkey buzzard …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • turkey vulture — noun A common North American vulture, Cathartes aura …   Wiktionary

  • turkey vulture — noun a common American vulture with black plumage and a bare red head. [Cathartes aura.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • turkey vulture — tur′key vul ture n. orn a blackish brown New World vulture, Cathartes aura, with a bare, wrinkled red head and neck Also called tur′key buz zard. • Etymology: 1815–25, amer …   From formal English to slang