Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura
A turkey vulture suns itself/Photo courtesy of Rollin Bannow

Clean-up Crew 

The name, Cathartes aura, is said to mean "golden purifier" or "purifying breeze" - an appropriate moniker for this member of nature's clean-up crew. Well designed for the task, turkey vultures have many adaptations for their role. Turkey vultures utilize their keen sense of smell to locate the dead animals they eat. Once potential food has been located, they use their sharp, hooked bills to access the soft tissues inside. The vulture's featherless head keeps them clean.

Turkey vultures are a frequent sight over the fields and tidelands of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge during the spring, summer and fall. They can easily be identified by their large wingspan, up-turned wings and tipsy flight. Look for congregations of turkey vultures in the evenings as they gather in the air prior to communal roosting. Learn more about the turkey vulture...

Facts About Turkey Vulture

Eats carrion (dead animals)

Uses its keen sense of smell to locate food

Will gather in large numbers during migration