Sunday, March 27, 2011

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) are a reliable sign of Spring as they return to Kalamazoo to eat winter-killed carrion. They will spend the summer in the area, raise their young, and then migrate south for the winter. They are one of Michigan's largest birds of prey and are frequently seen soaring above fields and woods.

Their underwing has a distinctive two-tone pattern-- black at the front and silver in the back. Up close, their bald, red head distinguishes them from hawks or eagles. In flight, their profile is V-shaped with the wing tips above the body.

I've seen dozens of them throughout Southwest Michigan this week. The bird pictured was flying directly over the parking lot at Fort Custer State Recreation Area.

Turkey Vulture Society

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