turkey vulture

Turkey Vulture
Cathartes Aura

Vultures have red featherless heads, curved whitish beaks, six foot wingspans, and eat carrion (dead and decaying flesh). You will often see them roosting in groups and during the fall migration, around October, scores will fly overhead in a southerly direction. Kern County has a Turkey Vulture Festival in late September.
Click here for their Turkey Vulture Fact Sheet.

When not searching for food, they spend hours sunning themselves, holding their huge wings out like a vampire's shroud. They roost in the taller oak trees just west of the picnic area or spend a lazy morning sunning themselves while sitting on the big sycamore tree in the middle of the alkali meadow. 

To distinguish them from hawks while flying is not always easy, but here's a few tips.

  1. two-toned wings - silver on top, black on the bottom
  2. rocks from side to side in flight
  3. seldom flaps its wings
Vultures are birds that most folks don't care for, and there are a few good reasons for this attitude. They are scavengers, silent and are drawn to dead things. It just doesn't paint a pretty picture for these most useful of creatures. Like spiders, they are the evil ones of our feathered friends. But just as with the spiders... we can't live without them!

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