Turkey Vulture

(Cathartes aura)

Arrived at Lakeside Nature Center on July 5, 2005.

This Turkey Vulture was found in an abandoned animal den and no parents were seen in the area.  When the chick arrived at Lakeside, its left leg was turned outward at an angle and was unusable.  Lakeside staff placed a special brace on the vulture's injured leg and the problem was corrected.  Unfortunately, while in the wild, the bird has used its wings to get from place to place; the weight and stress on the wing bones resulted in stunted growth.  This damage was irreversible, even with additional calcium and nutritious food.  This Turkey Vulture was born in the spring of 2005 and the skin on its head will not turn red until late 2006.

Natural history notes.

  • The Turkey Vulture is a very important scavenger.

  • These birds are unique because they have an excellent sense of small which they use to sniff out carrion (dead animals) while soaring.

  • Their bald heads are an adaptation for their diet.

  • Turkey Vultures in the Kansas City area migrate south in late October and return as early as February.

Check out this vulture's picture gallery.

For more information on turkey vultures, check out the Critter Corner entry.