Nature

10 Facts About Turkey Vultures That Might Surprise (and Totally Disgust) You

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The turkey vulture is a common sight along roads in Texas. Typically seen feeding on roadkill, these birds are often misunderstood and unnecessarily feared. Turkey vulture numbers are on the rise in Texas, so maybe it’s time to make peace with these interesting creatures.

Here are ten interesting (and yes, kind of gross) facts about Texas turkey vultures:

1. Not A Songbird

Not A Songbird turkey vultures

Photo: Flickr/Mike Gabelmann

Turkey vultures lack a syrinx (or bird vocal organ) so the only noises they can make are grunts and hisses.

2. Sun Worshippers

Sunworshipper

Photo: Flickr/R Stone Jr.

This vulture is often seen standing in a spread-winged stance. The stance is believed to serve multiple functions: drying the wings, warming the body, and baking off bacteria. It is practiced more often following damp or rainy nights.

3. Nature’s Janitors

nature's janitors

Photo: Flickr/budgora

Turkey vultures rarely, if ever, kill prey themselves. The turkey vulture can often be seen along roadsides feeding on roadkill, or near bodies of water, feeding on washed-up fish. They also will feed on fish or insects which have become stranded in shallow water. Like other vultures, they play an important role in the ecosystem by disposing of carrion which would otherwise be a breeding ground for disease.

4. Co-Parenting Like A Boss

co-parenting

Photo: Flickr/Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources

Both males and females are active in the lives of their young. Both sexes help to incubate eggs and then, once hatched, males and females both help raise the young.

5. Don’t Call Them ‘Buzzards.’

buzzard

Photo: Flickr/John McIntyre

Turkey vultures are often called “buzzards,” but buzzards are different birds entirely. Early American settlers from Europe confused this carrion eater with the buzzards from back home in Europe, but they’re not alike at all.

6. A Face Only a Mother (Vulture) Could Love!

face
Photo: Flickr/Budgora

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