All about turkey vultures

Turkey vultures can have an almost 6-foot wingspan. Anza Valley Outlook/Jesse Hernandez photo
The naked red heads of adult turkey vultures inspire revulsion and the memories of old Westerns where the birds pecked at dying men and animals. But in reality, these creatures are beneficial members of the local ecosystem. The featherless heads and necks resemble those of turkeys, which explains the name turkey vulture. The scientific name of Anza’s vulture species is Cathartes aura. The word “Cathartes” means cleanser or purifier in Latin, and the birds do clean up dead animal remains from the environment. The name “vulture” is derived from the Latin word “vulturus,” meaning “tearer,” in reference to its feeding habit of ripping their meals with their strong beaks. These large birds feed exclusively on carrion. They are scavengers, finding their food by using t
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