Turkey Vulture

TUVU Richard - Hara 12.13

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.

Diablo, our male turkey vulture, was injured in Arizona, and his right wing was amputated. He arrived at Lindsay Wildlife in 1987. Lord Richard hatched in 1974 and was raised in captivity. Because he developed a strong bond with people, he could not be released to join his fellow turkey vultures in the wild. 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 the 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 boy!

In the wild, turkey vultures have been known to live up to 16 years. Both our resident turkey vultures have far exceeded that—Diablo is more than 29 years old and Lord Richard turns 45 years old in 2019!