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Turkey Vulture
Cathartes aura

Turkey Vulture
Jote de Cabeza Colorada
Cathartes aura
Total length: 700mm . Sexes alike. Beak greyish white, red at the base. Iris brown with a fine white ring surrounding the pupil; head and bare portion of neck red with a creamy white crown; sides of crown and auricular patch bluish grey; sides of neck pale yellow; rest of feathered neck dark brown with metallic green and blue sheen; breast, abdomen and undertail coverts very dark brown. Back and scapulars dark brown with metallic sheen along the rachis and with a light brown margin; uppertail coverts dark brown; the rectrices are very long, dark brown on the upperside and ash grey on the underside. Wing coverts dark brown; secondaries brown with light brown margins; primaries dark brown. Underside of wings show lesser coverts and axillaries very dark brown; primaries and secondaries are ash grey on the underside. The legs are deep pink with a whitish appearance. The male is smaller than the female. The young have a grey head and the plumage is entirely dark brown. Habitat and behaviour: the Turkey Vulture is a very common bird that can always be seen elegantly soaring. As seen from below, its red head and its colour pattern unmistakably identify it. It always travels in pairs. On roosting and feeding sites the Turkey Vulture may gather in groups; as a rule it flies at a low height, travelling vast distances in search of food, which mainly consists of carrion and, occasionally, reptiles and other small animals. This species nests in trees, cliffs, ledges on rock walls or directly on the ground, the nest hidden among the vegetation. Clutch size: up to two white eggs with small dark red blotches on thick end. Both parents incubate, feed and take care of the nestlings. Range: adapted to all kinds of environments, this bird occurs in hot tropical forests as well as in mountainous regions, in the arid regions of the steppe and on marine coasts. Its distribution ranges from Canada to Tierra del Fuego. In Argentina its population is represented by three races: Carthartes aura ruficollis, which inhabits the northeast; Carthartes aura jota, occurring from the north (except the northeast) to Tierra del Fuego. The authors have never observed this race in the forests west of Río Negro and northeast of Chubut; however, in Tierra del Fuego it is found in the subantarctic taiga environments; it has recently been observed by the authors in forests around San Carlos de Bariloche (Neuquén) and El Bolsón (Río Negro) and also close to Esquel (Chubut). Cathartes aura falklandica is found at Islas Malvinas, Isla de los Estados and on the Chilean coast from Cape Horn to Peru and Ecuador.
Illustrated Handbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs Family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction of photographs is forbidden without permission from the authors.
Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña