Turkey vultures, the most prevalent species in North America, brings a wild turkey to mind when seen from a distance. Turkey vultures gives a familiar sight when flying in the open places of the country and people in many areas use the term “buzzard” for them. They seek for their nesting sites in the areas like woods and rocky hills. They feel secure in the woods, but they circumvent to be in the regions that are thickly forested. Their strong sense of smell makes them different from the other vultures. They also fly over the small offshore island to hunt food.
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Appearance and Size
This large dark bird has highly distinctive features than any other raptors. With the hairless, pinkish-red head and dark feather ruff, the body of an adult turkey vulture has the dark color with the brownish shade. The legs vary from dark color to pinkish, and their hooked beak is white. Their undersides are dark, and silver and the black hidden parts of the wings give the look of different color tones. Initially, the young turkey vultures have a dark head with tiny hair that turns pink when they get mature. This long-winged turkey vulture forms a “V” when it takes flight. The intensity of the red color of their head varies in the subspecies of turkey vultures. They have a quite long tale.
These large birds do not make calls, and their vocal organs are not very strong. The only sound they make is a little hissing when disturbed. They1very often when they eat. They can be called silent birds for lacking the capabilities of making sounds.
Turkey vultures shed their feathers in a specific season which are replaced by the new feathers. They do not shed all their feathers as they cannot afford to lose their ability to fly. They shed only a few feathers especially of tales so that they can keep flying. This process of molting occurs at the end of winters or early spring. It is an on-going process and lasts till autumn. Different wing shapes and size will bring changes in their capacity to fly.
With the pale underside of feathers, the mature Turkey Vultures possess dark plumage. The wings have silver white shades that also shine when reflected by sunlight that is different from the black vultures.
Distribution and Habitat
Of all the new world vultures, turkey vultures are the most shared and abundant. The population of turkey vultures in the Southern United States is perennial while those in the northern United States tend to migrate when needed. While those found in Europe, Asia and Africa are old world vultures. In the winter season, the migratory turkey vultures start traveling towards the areas relatively warmer and get settled. These areas include Mexico, Central America, Argentina, Alaska and Northwest Territories. Turkey vultures together with the other species of raptors are seen floating in the sky during the migration season when they make their ways towards warm places.
A wide range of habitat can be adapted by turkey vultures. They can be found flying high over the forests to roost in the trees, but the dense forests are not their priority. They also make their ways toward deserts and grasslands in search of food. They will search for the caves where they can make their nests which they do not visit very often. They, sometimes, prey on the dead fish near offshore islands. All these spots are not the limit as they are sky birds and keep on hunting where they get a chance. They will not even leave the scrapheaps to fulfill their need to scavenge.
Turkey vultures are flesh eater, but they are not a danger to the pets or other living animals. They keep on searching for the flesh of dead animals by flying near the ground. They were once reported to kill the animals that were weak, but this usually doesn’t happen. The turkey vultures commonly prey on big animals such as sheep and goats and deer, but if they find small killed animals around, they do not hesitate to feed on them. They like to have relatively fresh carrion.
Thanks to their keen sense of smell that never let them die for food unlike the most of other birds who have a bad sense of smell. They can smell the food even from a distant place, and they often accompany the other diurnal raptors in the feast.
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Relationship With the Human
People consider them a threat as they can cause health hazards to livestock. Even their droppings can destroy the fields and vegetation. They carry fatal diseases on their feet which transfer anthrax or cholera. They are sometimes mixed with the black vultures that can attack the living animals. Farmers try to protect their new-born cattle from them. Some people keep turkey vultures in captivity. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act gives the legal protection of these species, and it is considered as unlawful to kill the turkey vultures. The violation of this is act is punishable.
11 Interesting Facts about Turkey Vultures
- It could be strange to hear that the vultures are devoid of the syrinx. They cannot make calls to communicate or in dangerous situations like the other birds. They are only able to make hissing sounds.
- Turkey Vultures have a keen sense of smell. From five miles away, they can locate dead bodies. Interestingly, they can be used for help in crimes to find dead bodies. They become the first to fetch on carcasses like the yellow-headed vultures and lesser yellow-headed vultures.
- It is very clever of them that they can clear their stomach by vomiting that contains a powerful stomach acid that won’t let the turkey vultures be the victim of predators.
- In hot days, they refresh themselves by discharging urine on their feet and legs which lead to a cooling of their body.
- Something that gives turkey vultures a forever relief from food poisoning is their acidic stomach.
- Turkey Vultures assembled are known as an avenue and when flying together in the circle are referred to as kettle. They gather in a circle as their ritual to carry out different actions by flapping and diving.
- Turkey vultures are the human and animal saver. They gobble the decaying animals, vanishing the minacious diseases they carry and are pernicious for other animals.
- Turkey vultures do make nests in caves, but they do not live in the caves, they prefer to stay high in the sky. The only purpose of their nest is its use in breeding season. They just produce a single egg per year.
- Turkey vultures are often seen sitting with their feathers wide open. The purpose can be to remove the water from the feathers or warming the body.
- They altogether establish a community which sometimes contains more than a hundred turkey vultures. They may not have all the turkey vultures in their group; the black vultures may also be the part of the group.
- Their bald head and neck provide them with clean eating when fetching on carcasses by keeping them safe from infections.
Efficient and Humane Method to Remove the Turkey Vultures
Turkey Buzzard along with being a saver of humans and animals from certain infections are also ruinous to their lives. They become nasty by roosting in the trees in the backyard. They also create a bad smell that is quite disturbing. Although they are taken care of the law as we cannot kill them, humane methods and legal deterrents can bring the solution for keeping a check on these troublesome vultures. You can apply the thicker tape type caulk on your roofs as they are mostly found on the roofs.
- Electrified Bird shock tracks
An effective way to unwelcome vultures is the usage of electrified bird shock tracks. When installed at their approachable places, it would give them a momentary shock when they would land on it. This action would warn them not to retreat causing transitory harm to them.
- Bird spikes
Easy to install, bird spikes offer a great deal of help in flying these noxious turkey vultures away. Spikes do not allow the landing of these vultures due to its spiky surface that troubles them with spikes stinging their feet.
- Broadband Pro by Bird-X
Detectable sounds, not hearable to humans, produced by this bird X device help to scare the vultures. These birds find the sounds dreadful, and they never try to wander around again when once encounters with this.
With the keen sense of smell and bald red head, the Turkey vultures can easily be distinguished from the dominant black vultures. These widely distributed species do not attack the living animal despite the fact that they only eat flesh, unlike the black vultures. They fulfill their hunger need from the dead bodies. Vulture mess is a big issue for people. These vultures get on the perfect green branch and settle themselves there. Pest control methods can help in this regard.