Micke Grove Zoo

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Western Turkey Vulture
Cathartes aura aura

  • Habitat: open country and woodlands
  • Range: Southern Canada to South America
  • Natural Diet: carrion occasionally small mammals, birds, and reptiles
  • Status In The Wild: Common


Fun Facts

  • Turkey vultures have a highly developed sense of smell and are among  very few birds that use this sense to locate food.

  •  These majestic birds are scavengers in the wild and they are uniquely adapted to eat carrion.

  • Their featherless heads help them keep clean as they stick their heads inside a carcass to feed.

  • They are able to soar for miles, without flapping their wings, climbing on thermals (upward moving warm air).

  • Much of the water they require is obtained from the moisture in their food.

  • Turkey vultures are basically silent birds because they do not have a  voice box or syrinx. When agitated they hiss and grunt.

  • Vultures are protected from disease associated with decaying animals by a sophisticated immune system.


Conservation Threats 

The major threats are:

  • Loss of habitat due to urbanization has had a detrimental effect on    free-ranging population numbers

  • Collision with traffic and electric wires are other forms of threat

  • Their population numbers have also declined due to illegal hunting practices

Western Turkey Vulture These majestic birds are scavengers in the wild


The male turkey vulture housed at Micke Grove Zoo spreads his wings while he basks in the sun


Distributional range - Turkey vultures are found in North and South America