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Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons of North Dakota

JPG -- Picture of Species

Turkey Vulture
Cathartes aura


The turkey vulture, sometimes incorrectly called a buzzard, may be found throughout North Dakota from April through September and is fairly common in the badlands and adjacent plains along the lower portion of the Missouri River. The turkey vulture is often seen soaring in search of animal carcasses, locating them at least partly by means of its acute sense of smell.

Turkey vultures are valuable for their disposal of rotting and disease-causing carrion. The turkey vulture may be identified in flight by the contrastingly two-toned wings seen from below. The wings are often held upward in a shallow "v" as the vulture rocks from side to side in flight, seldom flapping its wings. The featherless head of a vulture serves as a deterrent against bacteria which use wet or blood-matted feathers as a medium for growth.

The breeding season runs from February to June and a clutch of 2 eggs is usually laid. Incubation is done by both the female and the male and the young hatch in about 39 days.


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