Appearance: Turkey vultures are large black birds with bright, bare red heads. They have a wingspan of about 6 feet and are one of our largest birds.
Behavior: They have long been perceived as loathsome creatures because of their repulsive feeding habits. However, they play an important role by “cleaning up” dead animals from our forests, roadways, and fields. They locate their food through sight and scent, an unusual adaptation since most birds have a poorly developed sense of smell. The bare head is an adaptation for an animal that is constantly sticking it inside dead animals. When vultures are cornered or threatened, they have the ability to regurgitate the contents of their stomach, a repulsive habit that is very effective in frightening away an attacker.
History: Vultures, also known as buzzards, are scavenging birds, which feed on the remains of dead animals. For years, vultures have been classified as birds of prey along with hawks, owls, and eagles. However, in 1994, vultures were reclassified and placed in the stork family. Vultures are fully protected by federal laws. It is illegal to kill, injure, or possess one of these birds.
Range: Turkey vultures can be found throughout North America.
Diet: Turkey vultures are carrion-feeders who prefer recently deceased animals.
Date of Birth: Unknown
Buzz came to the WNC Nature Center in January of 1990. Buzz was found along the road and taken to an animal hospital in North Carolina. Sadly, his injury was too bad and he could not fly properly. He was donated to the WNC Nature Center. Like most of the birds at the WNC Nature Center, Buzz was injured as an adult making it not possible to determine his age.
What Makes Buzz Unique? Buzz is one of the only birds here who actually plays with his enrichment items. This could be due to his great sense of smell or just because he likes to play. When you stop by the aviary, you might see Buzz sunning himself on a branch with his wings spread out soaking up the sun. This posture not only gives visitors a great view of his wings, but also warms his body, bakes off bacteria, and dries his wings.