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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
Santa Barbara, California
Seaside, California
Stamford, Connecticut
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
Snellville, Georgia
Lyndon, Illinois
Westchester, Illinois
Coatesville, Indiana
Des Moines, Iowa
Yale, Iowa
Topeka, Kansas
Hebron, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Cambridge, Maryland
Clinton, Maryland
Halifax, Massachusetts
Beaverton, Michigan
Gulliver, Michigan
Paw Paw, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan
Utica, 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
Medina, New York
Yonkers, New York
Cary, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Belfield, North Dakota
Bethel, Ohio
Hinckley, Ohio
Lebanon, Ohio
North Olmsted, Ohio
North Ridgeville, Ohio
Bend, Oregon
Gold Hill, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Malvern, Pennsylvania
Mc Keesport, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Whitehall, Pennsylvania
Dickson, Tennessee
Elizabethton, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Geronimo, Texas
Houston, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Needville, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Marcos, Texas
Portsmouth, Virginia
Reva, Virginia
Walkerton, Virginia
Dallas, Wisconsin
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Aug 13, 2018, westwick from Southwick, MA wrote:

Their return is a true sign that Spring has arrived. They are a beautiful sight as they ride the thermals majestically over the Little River and the woods in Westfield, MA searching for a meal.


On Aug 13, 2018, Vacula333 from Allentown, PA wrote:

We have two mating pair that roost nearby. My roommate feeds the animals, the cats are the goal, but the other animals like to eat the same food as well. I like the turkey's company in the morning, they finish off what the cats don't, I like that idea because of the flies. So we end up feeding the vultures, even though they have to wait. I must say quite big birds they are. They have not caused any real problems. They do look like turkey's and two of ours have blond feathers on their head. We are trying to figure out which are the girls and which are the guys. Apart from the blond feathers they all look the same.


On Aug 13, 2018, lisa48317 from Utica, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

Last week, one swooped over my neighbor's house and around her yard, before landing on top of her shed with what might have been a squirrel. I didn't even know we had them in SE Michigan! I enjoyed sitting on my patio for easily 30 minutes while it ate.
I was in awe with how big the wingspan was!


On Aug 13, 2018, 1moretree from Bethel, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I live in the southwest Ohio/Cincinnati region, and we get quite a few Turkey Vultures around here; particularly along State Rt. 52 east of town. I pass by a recently decommissioned power plant daily and very often see them roosting in the mornings on nearby steel power line towers. I think the access to early morning sun to warm up, nice thermals coming off the dark coal fields and and lots of nearby road kills makes it an ideal location for them.
A related fact, in the past several years throughout this general region I've been noticing black vultures (separate similar though slightly smaller species) becoming VERY abundant, where as I had never before seen them up here, only down south in regions like Florida. I've read that they can be aggressive towards Turkey Vultures (dri... read more


On Jul 11, 2018, Mr_Monopoly from North Olmsted, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Such fascinating creatures. We see plenty of them up in NE Ohio. I was at a Veterans Memorial service this past Independence day, and it was somewhat ominously ironic how a whole wake of them perched on a building nearby.


On May 22, 2017, ignatz713 from White Plains, NY wrote:

Beautiful, efficient bird without whom the roads would be glutted with poor dead animals.

Unfortunately animals are no match for automobiles, and these carrion eaters keep the roads clean.

I salute them.

BTW, that 'ugly bald red head' has a very specific purpose, read up on these magnificent birds and all the other carrion birds of the world.


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 (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.