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Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

A large dark brown vulture with a naked red head up to 31 inches in length with a wing span up to and 70 inches.

A wide variety of habitats, easily habituates to human development.

Nearly all of the lower 48 states and sections of southern Canada.

Carrion including road kill and washed-up fish, rotten fruit and vegetables, plant matter, insects, other invertebrates, reptiles, bird nestlings…even animal dung.

Life Span:
Up to 16 years in the wild and 33 years in zoos.

Family Life:
Turkey vultures breed once a year between March and June and lay up to 3 eggs after a a 30-40 day incubation period. The chicks gain their flight feathers within 80 days and are independent by 90 days.

Common, protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

True or false? Engineers have been known to use a bird’s sense of smell to detect leaks in natural gas┬ápipelines.

True: Engineers will use Turkey vultures (Cathartes Aura) to detect leaks in natural gas lines with their amazing sense of smell. They pump a gas called ethyl mercaptan into pipelines. This is the gas produced by decaying carrion. Turkey vultures home in on the scent escaping from leaks.