The Turkey Vulture
A scavenger with an excellent sense of smell
by Catherine McNiff
AP Photo, Elliott Minor
"Vulture," is the common name for large birds of prey of temperate and tropical regions. Vultures feed voraciously and indiscriminately, chiefly on carrion. Because they have weak beaks and lack the strength of other birds of prey, they rarely attack other than helpless animals. Most vultures have dark plumage and small, naked heads. In the adult turkey vulture, or turkey buzzard, Cathartes aura (wingspread 6 ft/1.9 m), the head is red; in the smaller black vulture it is black; and in the tropical king vulture (with cream and black plumage) it is orange, crimson, and purple, with a neck ruff of gray down.