Turkey vulture

The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is a large scavenging bird found primarily in the Americas. Here’s a description of the Turkey Vulture and its distribution:

Description of Turkey Vulture:

  • Appearance: Turkey Vultures have a distinct appearance with dark plumage, featherless red heads, and a wingspan of around 170-183 cm (67-72 inches). They have long, broad wings and a short, hooked beak, which they use to tear into carrion. Despite their unattractive appearance, they play a crucial role in ecosystems by helping to clean up carrion, thus preventing the spread of disease.
  • Behavior: Turkey Vultures are primarily scavengers, feeding on carrion they locate using their excellent sense of smell. They are often seen soaring in wide circles high in the sky, using thermals to stay aloft. They are not aggressive birds and generally avoid confrontation with other animals.
  • Habitat: Turkey Vultures are adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts, and urban areas. They are commonly seen along roadsides, where they scavenge for roadkill.
  • Range: Turkey Vultures have a wide distribution throughout the Americas, from southern Canada to the southern tip of South America. They are absent from the high Arctic and some parts of South America, such as the Amazon rainforest.
  • Migration: While some Turkey Vulture populations are resident year-round, others undertake seasonal migrations. In North America, many Turkey Vultures migrate south for the winter, with individuals from northern breeding grounds traveling to warmer areas in the southern United States and Mexico.
  • Conservation Status: The Turkey Vulture is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are relatively common and adaptable, with stable populations across their range.


  • Turkey Vultures are found throughout North and South America.
  • In North America, they are found in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America.
  • In South America, they are found in countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina.
  • They are also found on several Caribbean islands, including Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola.

Turkey Vultures are an integral part of the ecosystems in which they live, helping to clean up carrion and maintain ecological balance. Their widespread distribution and adaptability make them one of the most recognizable and important scavengers in the Americas.

Turkey vulture in Zoos

Login Account

Already a Giraffe Customer?

Invaild email address.

6 or more characters, letters and numbers. Must contain at least one number.

Your information will nerver be shared with any third party.