Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
- About 75 centimetres (30 inches) long.
- Wingspan often reaches 1.8 metres (6 feet).
- A beneficial scavenger, the turkey vulture is identified by:
- a small red and unfeathered head
- brownish black plumage
- large size
- In flight it soars effortlessly for long periods, often at great heights.
- Wings are held above horizontal in a definite "V".
- The turkey vulture breeds from northern Mexico to southern Canada, and winters from the southern states to South America.
- A small but growing population occurs in Alberta. In 2012, 28 nests were documented in east-central Alberta, and 190 young vultures have been wing-tagged in this area in the last 5 years. This represents the northern breeding range for turkey vultures.
- Can often be found in areas with open country or shorelines.
- Diet consists entirely of carrion.
- Young vultures are fed with regurgitated matter from the parents.
- In Alberta, the turkey vulture is active from May through to September.
- No nest is built. Eggs are laid on the ground:
- In caves
- Near logs or boulders
- On cliffs
- One to three yellowish-white eggs with brown markings are laid.
The turkey vulture is classified as Secure in the 2010 General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:
- Turkey vulture population is very small in the province.
- The turkey vulture is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act and classified as a non-game species.
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Updated: Sep 10, 2013