Turkey Vulture


Turkey Vulture
Cathartes aura

The Turkey Vulture is one of the only birds in North America with a good sense of smell.  They rely on both keen eyesight and a great nose to search out dead animals to eat.

Often seen soaring high on wind thermals, Turkey Vultures can be identified by their dark color, small, bald head, light trailing edge of their wings and “tippy” flying with wings in a V-shape.

Lord Richard hatched in 1974 at the Randall Museum in San Francisco and was transferred to Lindsay Wildlife later that year. After being raised by people, he became imprinted and would not be able to socialize correctly with wild vultures. Instead, he has a very important job as an ambassador for his species– as the oldest Turkey Vulture in California!

For years, Lindsay lore had it that Richard laid an egg, thus for years it was believed that Lord Richard was, in fact, a female. But Lindsay Wildlife Experience is always trying to update and advance the care of its animal ambassadors and in 2018, a now inexpensive test was done to determine the sex of our birds. The results came with some surprises including that Lord Richard is, in fact, a male!

In the wild, Turkey Vultures have been known to live up to 16 years. Our resident Turkey Vulture has far exceeded that— Lord Richard turns 47 years old in June of 2021!

Although Turkey Vultures are strictly carnivores, one of Lord Richard’s favorite treats is watermelon. His birthday “cakes” have been made with watermelon, ground up meat and garnished with mealworms. Sounds good, right?

Lord Richard is part of our free flight program, where he wears a GPS transmitter that communicates with a keeper’s phone to let them know his location at all times. For a bird in his late 40s, he is flying incredibly well and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down!