Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
A face only a mother could love - that is probably the best way to describe a turkey vulture. Homely though they are, they perform an invaluable ecological service. Vultures are nature's garbage collectors, seeking and removing dead mammals and birds that have met their demise by whatever means. In this way they participate in the recycling of nutrients through the ecosystem while removing diseased carcasses that could pose health threats to wildlife populations or humans.
Male and female turkey vultures are identical in appearance. A mature turkey vulture has a small red head devoid of feathers. The naked head is an evolutionary adaptation benefiting their health and hygiene. Hard-to-clean head feathers would become a matted haven for bacteria and parasites as the bird fed on the gooey innards of its r 4 prey". Although still classified as a bird of prey, likely will be re-classified to the stork family, its claws and beak are comparatively weak for its size and quite ineffective for capturing live prey and tearing fresh meat. Its food is confined wholly to carrion.
Breeds from southern British Columbia, to southern Quebec and central Maine, south throughout the United States. They are usually seen soaring over mountains, woods, farm country, but rarely over unbroken forest. They can be found perching in groups with shoulders humped over. They nest along cliffs or on snags were I to 3 white, marked with brown and purple eggs are laid. Turkey vultures are occasionally seen m Nova Scotia.
The turkey vulture is able to soar on the slightest updrafts for hours on end without a single wing beat. In flight, turkey vultures are easily distinguished from other large, dark birds by there up tilted wings held in a shallow "V" position. An unusual trait of turkey vultures is their well developed sense of smell, unlike many other birds, which posses rather poor olfactory abilities.