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Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

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Turkey Vulture - Sky Sailor

Although some of the Turkey Vulture's habits may evoke our disgust, these remarkable birds also inspire our awe. With wingspans approaching six feet, Turkey Vultures ride currents of air to make their spring and fall journeys, and to cover the miles of their home range in summer. Gliding on... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Turkey Vulture, A Poem

Vultures are an avian clean-up crew, removing carrion from the landscape. When Turkey Vultures circle low, you can see their naked red heads and deeply slotted black primary feathers. With their wings canted in a dihedral "V," they tilt upwind from side to side. The Turkey Vulture's keen sense of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Vultures Sail the Strait

From atop a thermal, Turkey Vultures in groups of up to 200 sail across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, making landfall near Salt Creek County Park on the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society sponsors a free field trip to witness this autumnal passage. Check out that or other... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Counting a Million Raptors Over Veracruz

A “river of raptors” flows through Veracruz State in eastern Mexico during the month of September. In Living on the Wind, Scott Weidensaul describes his experience counting the birds: “Nothing in a lifetime of birdwatching had prepared me for this spectacle,” he says. “As our sense of numbed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Turkey Vultures and Gas Pipelines

Do vultures detect carrion by sight or by smell? The lightbulb moment came to ornithologist Kenneth Stager when a Union Oil employee told him of vultures congregating at the spots along pipelines where gas leaks were occurring. Why would they do that? Because a key ingredient in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science

Alex Chadwick at Big Bend — Vultures

Celebrating International Vulture Awareness ... Veteran NPR reporter Alex Chadwick reflects on these amazing birds. In late summer 2014, Alex visited Big Bend National Park for BirdNote. During his trip, he got to know Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures — and some of the characteristics that... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Zone-tailed Hawks Mimic Vultures

Zone-tailed Hawks of the American Southwest look a lot like Turkey Vultures. And they often soar among groups of Turkey Vultures. By consorting with vultures, Zone-tailed Hawks gain a distinct advantage as predators. While doves and lizards would quickly flee the flight silhouette of a Red-tailed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Turkey Vultures on the Move

Before we see or feel spring, we often hear it first — in the testimony of a Red-winged Blackbird, the energy of a Song Sparrow, or the serenade of an American Robin. But across much of North America, an earlier sign of spring is the return of Turkey Vultures. In the US, you may see them as early... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration
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