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Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
L 27" (69 cm) 69" (175 cm)

Song or calls:
Usually silent, but over coveted animal carcasses groups of vultures may hiss, flop or fight.

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photo by Phil Swanson


Description: Sexes similar. Adult uniformly dark brown with small, red, unfeathered head; white tipped bill. In flight, wings held in shallow V; pale gray primaries contrast with dark wing linings and body, giving wings two-toned appearance; tail narrow and fairly long, extending beyond feet. Immature similar to adult, but with dark head and bill.

Food: Feeds on carrion and locates by sight and smell.

turkey vulture

  • Habitat: Open plains, sandhills or areas offering visual foraging. Cliffs, crevices, abandoned buildings or other cavities are used for nesting sites.
  • Where in Nebraska: Common regular spring and fall migrant throughout the entire state and locally uncommon regular breeder statewide. Hypothetical in winter.
  • Field Notes: At night, groups of a few up to 100 roost together in trees and then leave in late morning when thermals develop.
  • Fun Facts: The Turkey Vulture will defecate on its own legs using the water in the feces help cool itself down.


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