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Vultures

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The turkey vulture (cathartas aura) is a large bird measuring from 24" to 32" in length with a wingspan of 63" to 72."  It is called turkey buzzard or just buzzard in some north American areas, and in some parts of the Carribean John crow or carrion crow. The word buzzard is a misnomer because a buzzard is actually a hawk of the buteo family.

 

They are mostly brownish black while their flight feathers appear silvery gray beneath their wings with dark linings. They have a small, featherless, red head in proportion to their body. With a relatively short, hooked ivory colord beak they are unable to break through the tough hide of large mammals and so must relay on other scavengers or large vultures like the king vulture and condors. Their eyes are gray brown. Although the legs and feet are pink skinned, they are usually stained white from urinating on them. The immature turkey vulture has a gray head with a black tip on its beak.

Turkey vultures locate their food with their keen sense of smell and good eyesight. Flying low, they can catch the sent of a rotting carcass up to a mile away. Other vultures like the black vulture, the king vulture and the Andean and California condors will, while soaring much higher, watch turkey vultures and follow them to the site of a dead animal. The turkey vulture feeds almost exclusively on freshly dead carrion. Will also eat rotting plant matter occassionally.

 

They roost gregariously but forage independently. Their range extends from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America.

Picture of a turkey vulture fluffing up its feathers in Florida's Withlacoochee State Forest as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Red Headed Step Child

Picture of a turkey vulture stretching its wings in the morning sun as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Boo

Picture of a turkey vulture soaring over the river at John Sargent Park in Tampa, Florida as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Sky Master

Picture of a turkey vultures wing spread in flight at Tampa, Florida's John Sargent Park as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Winged

Black and white picture of a turkey vulture in Florida's Withlacoochee State Forest as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Red Headed Step Child BW

Found on every continent but the Antarctic and Australia and the islands surrounding it, vultures are natures clean up crews. Feeding almost exclusively on carrion. these scavenging birds of prey seek out dead animals where ever they can find them. They rarely attack healthy animals but may attack the wounded or sick. Some prefer freshly dead carcasses and won't feed on the carrion after a couple of days.

 

Many vultures have a bald head or head and neck, without normal feathers, which is easier to clean after feeding. It may also help in thermo regulation for they have been seen with their heads tucked under their wings in cold weather.

 

The largest vultures feed first because they can fend off the smaller ones, and the smaller ones lack the ability to open the carcasses of large animals which the larger vultures can do. This allows the smaller vultures to feed on the larger animals after the dominant birds have fed. They feed their young by disgorging food from their stomaches.

The new world black vulture (coragyps atratus) (not to be confused with the old world black vulture) is a large bird measuring from22" to 29" with a wingspan of between 52" and 66." They range from coast to coast across the southern United States, south through Central and South America to Chile and Argentina.

 

They are mainly a glossy black witrh a grayish head and neck with few indistinct feathers. They have a short hooked beak, brown eyes and grayish white legs. The base of their primary feathers is white, producing  a white patch on the underside of the wings edge.

With no sense of smell, the black vulture soars high in the sky looking for carrion and watch the vultures that do have a good sense of smell, like the turkey vulture,  and follow them to food. They hunt in large groups and with their aggressive behavior, can chase the larger turkey vulture from its find. They will hunt live animals and have been know to harrass cows giving birth and attack calves up to two weeks old swarming them to overpower them.

 

Like all vultures they bathe frequently and can often be seen in a spread wing stance.

Picture of a black vulture resting after eating as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: A Bit Of Evidence

Picture of a new world black vulture waiting its turn to feed in Charlotte County, Florida as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: New World Black Vulture

Picture of a black vultures around the carcass of a cow in Polk County, Florida as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Steak Dinner

Picture of a new world black vulture on the side of a road in Charlotte County, Florida as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Strutting His Stuff

Picture of a pair of new world black vultures in rural Charlotte County, Florida as a fine art nature print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Vulture Pair

Picture of two new world black vultures waiting their turn at a carcass as a fine art print for the wall of your home or office.

Title: Macabre Vigil

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