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 1990 after being injured permanently by a car accident. Because he was found as an adult, his age is unknown.