Apr 152012

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Turkey Vultures Cathartes aura are fascinating and important birds of prey. They purify our world and should be held in high esteem or at least respected by all humans. A keen sense of smell aids these raptors of the dead in finding carrion from miles away.

I am in awe of this magnificent Turkey Vulture, who tried in a few ways to frighten me away. I was able to get within fifty feet and given quite a display.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

This princely creature seems amazed at my not being intimidated by his six foot wide expanse of wing. “If my appearing larger does not scare you off . . . perhaps my hiss will!”

Turkey Vultures cannot woo one another by song . . . as many returning birds are doing in the gardens right now . . . they are not equipped with the needed voice box but get along with grunts, hisses and even coughs, to communicate amongst each other and ward off those that tread too close.

In this case the wide open mouth and odd sound are intended for this observer. I am more intrigued.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

I find their ivory beaks pretty impressive too . . . all the better to tear flesh. Turkey Vultures have been known to eat some rotting fruit and even manure. The Turkey Vulture Societysite is worth visiting and you can read more about these cleaning machines here and here . . .

Carol Duke

Carol Duke

Carol Duke is an artist and farmer who has worked with the land on a Western Massachusetts hillside for over thirty years. During this time her land has evolved into a diverse wildlife habitat. Carol features the flora and fauna that live and visit her farm on her website and blog http://caroldukeflowers.com As vital wildlife habitats are destroyed daily, Carol hopes to inspire others to garden for wildlife, while becoming activists for wild places the world over. Her nature photography has appeared in magazines, books and newspapers.

Leave a Comment

  • Juan Javierre

    A bit unusual view of a Cathartes from Colombia, at the Santa Marta river mouth, last March

    • Carol Duke

      What amazingly striking creatures! Great capture Juan! Thanks for sharing.

  • Steven Scott

    Nice post.  Every creature has it’s place in nature.

    • Carol Duke

      Thanks Steven and so true! 

  • http://focusingonwildlife.com/ Ken Billington

    Carol, an informative and interesting profile on this “beautiful” species. I first came across Turkey Vultures in Puerto Rico in January 2011 – http://bit.ly/IKnvau

    • Carol Duke

      Thank you Ken! For all your help too!! Wow! You have some fabulous shots of this “beautiful” creature. I so agree, but many will not join us in using that word to describe a turkey vulture. 

  • Gary Sibio

    Cool. I’ve never seen one sitting in a tree.

    • Carol Duke

      Thanks Gary. I had never seen one perching either. It was really an awesome encounter. 

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