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Our Mission: Saving Wildlife

Turkey Vulture

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Cathartes aura

  • Classification: Bird
  • Lifespan in Captivity: 20-30yrs
  • Lifespan in the Wild: 10yrs
  • Wingspan: 4-5ft
  • Weight: 4.5lbs
  • Range: lower 48 United States, Central America, South America
  • Habitat: open and semi-open farmland, forest, scrub, pasture
    • Diet in the Wild: Opportunists: carrion
    • Diet at Wildlife Images: rodents, poultry, donated meats

Turkey vultures are one of the few birds with a highly developed sense of smell, which they use to seek out rotting animal carcasses. They’re also among the most talented soarers in the animal kingdom, able to stay aloft for hours without a single wingbeat. This is only possible in the presence of warm thermal updrafts, so northerly populations will usually migrate south during winter. In our region, turkey vultures are often the first sign spring weather is here, as they rely on the thermal updrafts that warmer weather brings to search for food. Turkey vultures are incredibly adapted birds to their lifestyle, sporting featherless heads to stay clean while sticking their heads into carcasses to feed, and sunning themselves frequently to bake bacteria from their feathers. Vultures perform a very necessary service in our world because rotting carcasses harbor bacteria and spread disease; carrion eaters help keep the ecosystem healthy by cleaning up.

Description: Large-bodied and long-winged, mostly dark with some lighter/golden brown on feathers, pale undersides on the flight feathers (along the trailing edge and wingtips); red, unfeathered head; white, hooked bill

Behavior: 

  • Soar with very few wingbeats
  • Soar in small groups, roost in larger groups
  • Ride thermals to soar to great heights
  • Sunning: spreading feathers out in sunlight to kill bacteria on feathers
  • Projectile vomit as a deterrent to predators
  • Defecate on own legs to cool selves

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11845 Lower River Rd., Grants Pass, OR 97526
P.O. Box 36, Merlin OR 97532

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Our Mission: Saving Wildlife

In this pursuit we aim to:

  • Involve people to share in our mission.
  • Educate people about the personal benefits of taking care of wildlife and the environment entrusted to our care.
  • Inspire people to make positive changes improving the world for wildlife.

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With over 80 animal ambassadors, and over 1,000 sick injured and orphaned animals brought to our center each year - every dollar counts. We rely solely on people like yourself to support the work we do.

We receive no State or Federal funding and depend entirely on private funds to carry out our Mission.