Turkey vulture (Carthartes auro)
Broad wings with outstretched finger-like tips, along with a bright-red featherless head and pale yellow bill, are some key traits that make this large raptor easy to spot.
From a distance, the turkey vulture in flight is often confused with an eagle or osprey. However, if it appears to turn wobbly circles while gliding, then it’s probably a turkey vulture.
Rising thermal air currents not only provide a free glide, but also lift up the smell of fresh carrion for these scavengers to locate a meal of “leftovers.”
Scavengers like the turkey vulture perform a valuable service as de facto sanitation engineers, tidying up the landscape of carcasses one bite at a time. Since their food source is literally everywhere, it is quite common to see them circling over fields, rivers and marshes, as well as dumpsters and roadsides.
Turkey vultures may appear to be very dark — even black — from a distance. However, they are actually dark brown with some lighter areas under the wing, giving them a majestic appearance in the right light.
Jan Baumgartner’s handmade notecards showcase Siesta Key natural scenic beauty and wildlife. They are available in two locations:
- BLVD Beachwear, 5239 Ocean Blvd., (941) 349-2583
- Shelly’s Gift and Christmas Boutique, 4420 S. Tamiami Trail, (941) 260-8905