Photo of the Day #824: Turkey vulture

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A turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) landing to scavenge a deer carcass. Photographed in suburban New Jersey.


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The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is a creature that I am at least somewhat familiar with; I see them every day on my drive to work. Whether they're just circling overhead or picking on a deer carcass, turkey vultures don't seem to have any problem inhabiting the landscape with people and are…
A turkey vulture (Cathartes aura), photographed at Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.
A group of turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) hanging out on the dunes. Photographed May 17, 2008 at Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.

I'm not a New Jersey native so it was somewhat shocking at first to see vultures around sub-urbia. A little more used to it now though. Sometimes, in the late winter, you can spot a deer carcass stripped nearly clean with only the skin covering the rib-cage while a vulture pecks away at what's left of the innards. Just like being on the African savanna.

A couple months ago I saw my first turkey vulture in southern CT, in a place where turkeys have become common (miracle!). Vultures a rara avis here.

I always carry a little shovel when driving, and take any opportunity to stop and move roadkill out of the traffic lane onto the shoulder, to make it safer for the vultures.

After flying a hang glider for years, I love seeing them around.