New World Vultures Family Cathartidae

Blackish; often seen soaring high in wide circles. Their naked heads are relatively smaller than those of hawks and eagles. Vultures are often locally called "buzzards." Silent away from nest site. FOOD: Carrion. RANGE: S. Canada to Cape Horn.

TURKEYVULTURE Cathartes aura ( sec also p. 134 ) Common M136

26-27 in. (66-69 cm); wingspan 6 ft. ( 183 cm). Nearly eagle-sized. Overhead, note dark color with two-toned wings (flight feathers paler). Soars with wings in dihedral (shallow V); rocks and tilts unsteadily. At close range, small, naked red head of adult is evident; immatures have dark head, similar species: Black Vulture; Zone-tailed Hawk, which "mimics" Turkey Vulture; and eagles, which have larger, feathered head, shorter tail, and soar in a steady flat plane. habitat: Usually seen soaring in sky or perched on dead trees, posts, or on ground feeding, or sunning with wings outstretched.

BLACK VULTURE Coragypsatratus (see also p. 134) Common M135

25 in. (64 cm); wingspan less than 5 ft. (152 cm). This dark scavenger is readily identified by short, square tail that barely projects beyond rear edge of wings and by whitish patch toward wingtip. Legs longer and whiter than Turkey Vultures. Note quick flapping, alternating with short glides. similar species: Turkey Vulture has longer, rounded tail; flapping is slower, less frequent; soars with noticeable dihedral. Caution: Young Turkey Vulture has dark head. habitat: Similar to Turkey Vulture s but avoids higher mountains, prefers swampy areas.

CALIFORNIA CONDOR Gytnnogypscalifornianus Rare, local M137

46-47 in. (117-120 cm); wingspan 8'/2-9'/2 ft. (259-290 cm). Was heading toward extinction; last wild birds captured in 1987. Captive breeding program successful, and some of these birds released to wild in CA, AZ, and Baja CA. Much larger than Turkey Vulture. Adult: Extensive white un-derwing linings toward fore edge of wing. Head yellow-orange. Immature: Dusky-headed and lacks white wing linings, but almost twice the size of Turkey Vulture and has much broader proportions and shorter tail. Condor has flatter wing-plane when soaring; does not rock or tilt. similar species: Many Golden Eagles show some white under wing, but this color is placed differently; overall shape also different. habitat: Mountains, grassy foothills, chaparral. Nests on mountain ledges.

Eagle Vulture Underwing Chart



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