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Turkey vulture        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Turkey vultures are common throughout much of North, Central, and South America, and in many areas are characteristic features of the mid-day sky, soaring over long distances in search of dead animals.   Their naked heads help them eat slimy carcasses without soiling feathers.   They're not attractive birds, but have graceful flight and in fresh plumage their feathers have an interesting sheen (upper right).   They often bask sun in the morning or afternoon (as in the photo at the bottom of the page, taken on a cold morning in Palo Alto, California).   Other vultures were photographed in southeastern Florida, south Texas, and several areas in southern California.

  • Canon 1D Mk. II, 1D3, or 7D2; 500 mm IS lens plus 1.4X or 2X converter, or 800 mm IS lens (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017)