Turkey Buzzard


We frequently see these turkey buzzards (Cathartes aura) soaring over our neighborhood in search of food. I took this photo of a low flying buzzard from our patio this morning. Click image to enlarge.

The proper common name for these scavenging birds is turkey vulture, even though buzzard is commonly used. It is called “turkey” because of its slight resemblance to the red-headed game bird.

I cannot remember seeing turkey buzzards over our California home although their summer range supposedly includes SoCal.

From Wikipedia:

The Turkey Vulture is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion. It finds its meals using its keen vision and sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gasses produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead animals. In flight, it uses thermals to move through the air, flapping its wings infrequently. It roosts in large community groups. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets. Each year it generally raises two chicks, which it feeds by regurgitation. It has very few natural predators. In the United States of America, the vulture receives legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

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