The Turkey Vulture
by Liz Ciocea
Photos taken at Annie's Acres
(click any of the images below for a larger version)
They are a peaceful bird, they mate for life, both male and female participate in raising their young and they live and travel in large groups called “venues.” The Cherokee nation honours them with the name “Peace Eagle.”
Because their digestive systems are so strong, bacteria is killed in the process of digestion and their feces contain so much uric acid that it acts as a disinfectant. Warning – these birds defend themselves from predators by regurgitating and send most invaders running from the terrible smell.
This majestic bird is one of the largest birds in North America. Its wingspan can reach up to 6 feet and its body length ranges from 25 to 32 inches.
The turkey vulture’s very small bald red head certainly doesn’t seem to fit with its majestic body, but is extremely useful for scavenging. It allows them to go deep into a carcass for food without getting its head dirty.
One of the major factors separating the Old World Vultures – found in Africa, Asia and Europe, and the New World Vultures is their inability to grasp or carry away food with their feet. They have small “chicken like” feet and are forced to eat their dinners where they find it.
In flight, the Turkey Vulture is one the most graceful and beautiful soaring birds in the world. They follow thermals of warm rising air and can soar for hours without flapping their wings. Pilots have reported seeing them soaring as high as 6000 feet. When you look skyward they are easily identified because they hold their wings in dihedral or “V” shape, while other large birds hold their wings straight out and flap. A group of soaring Turkey Vultures is known as a “kettle” of Vultures.
For more information go to http://vulturesociety.homestead.com