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Turkey Vulture

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Cumoto Forest, Trinidad

This is a brownish black bird with the head and neck being bare and red in color. There are yellow bands on the nape of the neck. The undersides of the flight feathers are pale gray. The feet are red. The sexes are similar but the female is slightly larger. Their size is between 64-81 cm (25-32 in) and weight of 2000 g (70.6 ounces). The immature have a gray head with black beak tip.

The Turkey Vulture is similiar to the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture but larger. Turkey Vultures are named for their red heads which give them a slight resemblance to a turkey.

Although classified as a bird of prey, its claws and beak are comparatively weak for its size and quite ineffective for capturing living prey and tearing fresh meat. Its food is confined wholly to carrion for this reason it is not only harmless but beneficial. It usually forages alone and soars for long periods, flapping its wings infrequently and slowly (see the Soaring section of the article, How do Birds Fly). While soaring it holds its wings slightly up in a V shape. While soaring it detects carrion by sight and smell. Although generally seen alone they will feed on large carcasses in big groups with black vultures. This bird is usually silent only making grunts and hisses.

Family - Vulture

Local Names - King Corbeau

Latin Name - Cathartes aura

Range - Southern Canada through North Central and South America

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Mayaro, Trinidad


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Cumoto Forest, Trinidad


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Last modified: February 16, 2008