Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Cathartidae
Genus: Cathartes
Species: aura


This bird has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Bigelow, Arkansas
Apple Valley, California
Fremont, California
Kelseyville, California
Menifee, California
Redding, California
Seaside, California
Big Pine Key, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Mims, Florida
Okeechobee, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Lawrenceville, Georgia
Monticello, Georgia
Lyndon, Illinois
Westchester, Illinois
Coatesville, Indiana
Des Moines, Iowa
Yale, Iowa
Hebron, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Cambridge, Maryland
Clinton, Maryland
Halifax, Massachusetts
Gulliver, Michigan
Paw Paw, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan
Golden, Mississippi
Marietta, Mississippi
Cole Camp, Missouri
Conway, Missouri
Salem, Missouri
Kalispell, Montana
Hudson, New Hampshire
Warner, New Hampshire
Beachwood, New Jersey
Wenonah, New Jersey
Yonkers, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Belfield, North Dakota
Hinckley, Ohio
Lebanon, Ohio
North Ridgeville, Ohio
Bend, Oregon
Gold Hill, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Malvern, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Whitehall, Pennsylvania
Dickson, Tennessee
Elizabethton, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Geronimo, Texas
Houston, Texas
Needville, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Portsmouth, Virginia
Reva, Virginia
Walkerton, Virginia
Dallas, Wisconsin
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Aug 12, 2015, 2QandLearn from Menifee, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

The first time I saw these birds I was riding my bicycle alone, and was passing by a rural school (not in session). There was absolutely no sound, & no wind or breeze . . . but . . . suddenly I began hearing leaves rustle in each of the tall Eucalyptus as I passed them by.

When I looked back over my shoulder & up, I saw 3 to 5 BIG, DARK birds with UGLY BALD RED HEADS gliding effortlessly -&- otherwise soundlessly . . . out of each of the trees in a long row!

I had long been an occasional visitor to the area, and my family was in the process of moving here. . . . I hadn't realized that Turkey Vultures were around, until that Very Eery moment!

Now --about 40 years later-- I am happy to see a family of 3 to 5 on occasion. I think when I first s... read more


On Dec 4, 2014, CAndersen from Apple Valley
United States wrote:

We get to witness Turkey Vulture migration twice a year, heading South around Sept-Oct, heading North in the Spring. This is an amazing site as we have a 10 mile view over the High Desert and can see them coming for miles. They circle to rest and continue on their way. You can see these black circles way off in the distance. Soon they are over our house. They have that "dipped V" posture, the easiest way to identify from a distance.


On Feb 18, 2013, Chillybean from Near Central, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

As others have mentioned, this bird is great for cleaning up our roads. I do miss these birds in the cold months. They must nest near here in the summer as we will see them flying around the area looking for a meal. What a gorgeous bird in flight.

You might find it interesting that the Latin name for this bird means "purifying breeze".


On Dec 24, 2010, audsrz from Traverse City, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

Saw a small group this spring. Took me a minute to figure out what they were up to. One would fly out over the road, ride the thermal up then come back to the tree without landing. Then another would repeat the process. The parents were teaching the chicks about thermal updrafts over pavement!


On Apr 12, 2010, WineofLife from Salem, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is one of my POSITIVE THAT SPRING IS HERE announcers. I started noticing that they disappear for winter and appear when Spring gets here. So Now I watch for them! LOL They make a perfect CLEANUP CREW! Just think what the Highways would be like without them!!!


On Apr 11, 2010, ChiliMaster from Lake Geneva, WI wrote:

Our yearly flock or group of seven turkey vultures arrived about April 1st and spent the day circling low and I assume looking for a nesting sight.


On Apr 8, 2010, SnowlineRose from Bend, OR (Zone 4b) wrote:

Turkey vultures riding afternoon thermals are often our first sign of spring here. I've heard that this flock (~25) winters in South America. They roost in a neighbor's pine trees and fly over to our ponderosas at daybreak to catch the morning sun. We fondly refer to them as "The Clean up Crew".


On Aug 3, 2009, KyWoods from Melbourne, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This bird is a protected species. Here is a website with lots of interesting info on them:


On Apr 28, 2009, antsinmypants from Marietta, MS (Zone 7b) wrote:

I've been trying to get some good pictures of this bird for a while now. I enjoy watching them. I see them often in the road eating 'road kill' or circling in the air. They will fly away when you approach, but quickly resume 'dining'. I just recently saw about 10 of them sitting in trees. Was the first time I ever saw them just sitting around.