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Vultures

All Vultures:

  • are birds of prey. This means they have sharp talons and hooked beaks for ripping meat.
  • are “endothermic” or warm-blooded. Endothermic animals can regulate their body temperature, allowing them to live in a variety of habitats on Earth.
  • have bald (or limited feathering on their) heads and necks. This helps the vultures stay clean while eating.
  • are characterized by having a “wider than proportional” wingspan, allowing them soar high in the sky while looking for their meal.
  • are diurnal. This means they hunt or spend most their time awake during the daytime.
  • have a strong immune system which allows them to eat carrion or rotting meat.

Turkey Vultures

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We received our two Turkey Vultures in Spring of 2018 but their sexes are unknown as it is hard to tell. They reside outdoors on the Wildlife Trail educating visitors about these unique predators found in the wild.

Turkey Vultures eat carrion (dead animals). They are one of the few bird species to have a sense of smell, which they use to find their stinky food.

They can be seen flying above open country, shorelines, and roads with their wings held in a V-shape. They are not common in forested areas.

  • Turkey Vultures will vomit up their food when threatened by a predator. The vomited food may distract the predator and make the vultures lighter, making it easier to fly away to safety.
  • Since Turkey Vultures are in the New World Vulture group, they lack a voice box and are only able to grunt and hiss.

Turkey Vultures are very common throughout Michigan from Spring up until the late Fall when they migrate south to warmer areas. Currently, there are no threats to populations of this species. They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and it is illegal to kill Turkey Vultures in the United States.