Turkey Vulture
At Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, California, US
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Clade: Afroaves
Superorder: Accipitrimorphae
Order: Cathartiformes
Family: Cathartidae
Genus: Cathartes
Species: C. aura
Binomial name
Cathartes aura
Linnaeus, 1758
Range of C. aura      Summer only range     Winter only range

The Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura, is one of three species in the genus Cathartes, in the family Cathartidae.[2]

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The Turkey Vulture is 60–80 cm (24–31 in) and a 6-foot wingspan;[3][4] it weighs 1.6–2.4 kg (3.5–5.3 lb).[5]

Large, nearly eagle-sized bird,[6] with obvious red[7] head and legs,[3] which can be seen at close range.[6] In flight, the wings appear two-toned;[3][6][8][9][10][7] as flight feathers are lighter than wing linings.[6] The tips of wings end in finger-like projects.[3] Long squared tail.[3] Ivory bill.[3]

Similar species




Generally quiet, but will let out a hiss or grunt if it feels threatened or cornered.[11][6][12]



It ranges from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America.

It inhabits a variety of open and semi-open areas, including subtropical forests, shrublands, pastures, and deserts[1] as well as shorelines and roads.[11]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Cathartes aura". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ John H. Boyd III (January 26, 2012). "ACCIPITRIMORPHAE: Cathartiformes, Accipitriformes". TiF Checklist. Retrieved 2-06-2020.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tekiela, Stan (2002). Birds of Oklahoma Field Guide. Adventure Publicatins, Inc. ISBN 1885061331. 
  4. ^ Reader's Digest Editors (1982). Reader's Digest North American Wildlife. Reader's Digest Association. ISBN 0895771020. 
  5. ^ Clark, William S.; Brian K. Wheeler (2011). Hawks of North America, 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 12. ISBN 0395670675.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help);
  6. ^ a b c d e Peterson, Roger Tory (1961). A Field Guide to Western Birds. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 039513692X. 
  7. ^ a b Garrigues, Richard and Dean, Robert (2007). The Birds of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical Publication. ISBN 9780801473739. 
  8. ^ Peterson, Roger Tory (1980). A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 039526619X. 
  9. ^ Robbins, Chandler S.; Bertel Bruun, Herbet S. Zim and Arthur Singer (illu.) (1983). A Guide to Field Indentification: Birds of North America. Western Publishing Company. ISBN 0307336565. 
  10. ^ Peterson, Roger Tory (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Arizona. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ASIN B0090R20OI. 
  11. ^ a b Krista Kagume (2005). Compact Guide to Ontario Birds. Lone Pine Publishing. ISBN 1551054671. 
  12. ^ Houston, D., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Marks, J.S. (2016). Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 2 February 2016).

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