Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura

Family: Ciconiidae

These huge birds are mainly spotted by the average person soaring magnificently above roads. Their primary habitat is deciduous woodlands and adjacent farmlands or pastures. The dominant tree species of Jewel Cave National Monument is the Ponderosa Pine, a coniferous evergreen so they are an uncommon visitor to the Monument. They are found throughout the Black Hills and adjacent prairie. As the day heats up, columns of hot air, called thermals, rise upward. Turkey Vultures ride these thermals saving themselves an enormous amount of energy by soaring without flapping their wings. The rising columns of air also bring the scent of their food to them. These birds are carrion eaters and can be seen feasting on roadkill.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Building B12

Custer, SD 57730


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