Spring Break 2018: The Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura, the Turkey vulture;
Collier county, Florida (15 March 2018).
Series: Spring Break 2018.

It’s perhaps not the best photograph of a Turkey vulture you’re likely to see on these here pneumatic tubes of the interwebs, but it’s still a species very much worth sharing. This is, of course, a Turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, spreading its wings down south in Big Cypress National Preserve.

Turkey vultures are particularly notable for their keen and wicked sense of smell — which they use to find rotting carcasses, their preferred source of nom-nom good-eats. More so than damn near any other bird you’re likely to find in North America, Turkey vultures are geared, prepped, and ready to pick up the scent of decaying flesh from afar. Other birds, in fact, will follow Turkey vultures around in search of bonus-scavenged snacks. When you spot a bunch Turkey vultures silently gliding overhead in circles, there’s a decent chance there’s a rotting carcass nearby. That carcass may be out of your olfactory range, it won’t be out of the Turkey vulture’s range.

Cathertes aura, 15 March 2018 (1)

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