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Scavengers

Hooked beak but no talons, so North American vultures are not raptors. Turkey Vultures migrate in spring the same time calves are being born. New World vultures are the cleanup crew. Their featherless heads keep blood and guts from coating their heads where cleanup of feathers would be difficult. A strong sense of smell enables high flying Turkey Vultures, like this one, to detect recently dead animals, like this newborn Chico calf. Turkey Vultures wait to migrate until the heat of the day creates thermals. Most often we see Turkey Vultures floating effortless with wind currents, rarely needing to flap their wings. Examination of their very wide wings shows they are designed to soar and not to flap rapidly compared to falcons or forest hawks who are often observed steadily flapping their wings.

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