The Turkey Vulture’s head, like its namesake, is bald and red. Its plumage is primarily dark brown.
In flight, the undersides of the flight feathers appear silver or white (see photo to right).
Genders appear identical.
The Vulture’s Bald Head:
There is an important purpose to the vulture’s bald head. When the vulture is eating carrion, it must often stick its head inside the carcass to reach the meat. A feathery head would capture unwanted pieces of the vulture’s meal, along with all the bacteria it hosts. After mealtime, the turkey vulture perches in the heat of the sun. Here, whatever has managed to cling to the few bits of fuzz on their head will be baked off once and for all.
25 to 32 inches long, with a wingspan around 6 feet.
Healthy adult Turkey Vultures weigh approximately 6 pounds.