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BIRDS

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Monday, July 9, 2007

turkey vulture

turkey vulture 05

turkey vulture 03

turkey vulture open wing

Turkey VultureCathartes aura – also known as Urubu à tête rouge (French), Vautour (French), Zopilote Aura (Spanish), Aura cabecirroja (Spanish), Aura Gallipavo (Spanish), Kalkoengier (Dutch), Truthahngeier (German), Avvoltoio collorosso (Italian), Kalkongam (Swedish).

A very interesting (and HUGE) bird, the Turkey Vulture is almost shocking when seen “in person.” The size and the look of this bird are quite striking when one is out taking pictures of larks and buntings!

Via Cornell:

The Turkey Vulture uses its sense of smell to locate carrion. The part of its brain responsible for processing smells is particularly large, compared to other birds. Its heightened ability to detect odors allows it to find dead animals below a forest canopy.

Very cool!

Males and females look similarly (females a bit larger).

The Turkey Vulture is found in Iowa and the Midwest throughout the summer, and can be found in the Southern US (and parts of the southern-most areas of the Midwest) all year long.

Taken with the Canon Digital Rebel XT 350D and a Sigma 70-300mm Lens on July 4, 2007 in Oak Run (Dahinda), Illinois.

Related posts:

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Wild Turkey
  3. Wild Turkey Tracks in Snow
  4. Killdeer In Flight
  5. Killdeer Wading

Posted by: Mike in: Birds,Illinois at 1:22 pm

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9 Responses to “Turkey Vulture”
  1. 1
    Stephen Leese Says:

    hello Moe,

    Very nice website! Nice photos.
    I have just moved to Bettendorf from Europe and am a keen birdwatcher. Today I was in Burlington, IA at Starr’s Caves and saw a small warbler with an orange throat and black cap. The only thing I can identify from my field guide is a Blackburnian Warbler. Is this possible?

    Stephen Leese

  2. 2
    Moe Says:

    Wow!! It definitely could be a blackburnian warbler this time of year, as they come through here during migration. That would be a great find!

  3. 3
    Cindy Schollaert Says:

    For several hours above our pasture (north of Dixon Iowa) we spotted a huge flock of at least 30 birds….they appeared to be vultures. (dark, very broad wings…couldn’t see their heads much during flight) It was a freakish sight, for sure. They circled slowly in huge groups, and stayed in the area all afternoon. In fact, I’ve seen one again this morning. At one point, they all flew and perched on a cell phone tower. Is this common behavior to be in such a large flock? Otherwise, what could they have been.

  4. 4
    Moe Says:

    Cindy – Turkey Vultures definitely do hang out in groups. This time of year they can often be seen in a large group sitting in a tree or other object getting sun and stretching their wings.

    The best way to tell if they are turkey vultures when they are soaring is to look at the coloring under their wings (like the 3rd picture, above). The dark body with dark parts at the top of the wing, with all white lower wing parts often gives them away.

  5. 5
    10,000 Birds | I and the Bird: What is a Vulture? Says:

    [...] it’s important to note that Turkey Vultures, in particular, were well-loved by, and even inspirational to, the people that lived here before [...]

  6. 6
    Bev Says:

    I was walking with a friend at 6 o’clock this morning in Mason City. I saw a bird flying with a very large wingspan, dark on the top & white on the lower portion. Wee later saw it on a street sign and are quite sure it had a red head like a turkey vulture. Is it possible to see a lone vulture in town?

  7. 7
    Moe Says:

    Sounds to me like you have a turkey vulture, for sure! I see them all the time in town, although rarely sitting on a street sign.

  8. 8
    Lindsay Says:

    Just drove by about a dozen turkey vultures sitting on fencing just east of the Alden/Iowa Falls exit! How neat. Thankful for this site so I now know I wasn’t going crazy!

  9. 9
    Moe Says:

    Awesome! I have yet to see any perched on fences or street signs. Always up in trees or flying.

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