That is a turkey vulture- which is also called a buzzard.
In the New World Buzzard can mean:
A vulture, particularly the American Black Vulture and Turkey Vulture, or as a general term for vultures.
In parts of the United States where they are considered pest, particularly in rural areas, a derogatory term for certain birds of prey, such as the Chickenhawk (a common colloquial name referring to either the Cooper's Hawk, the Sharp-shinned Hawk or the Red-tailed Hawk), or the Duck hawk (known elsewhere as the Peregrine Falcon).
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Turkey Vulture. I think the term "buzzard" would have to be regional (if others say that it is used to describe Turkey Vultures) - Turkey Vultures are very common in my area and no one ever calls them buzzards.
Yup, Turkey Vulture. The red head distinguishes it from the only other vulture in the US, the Black Vulture. In the summer, Turkey Vultures are found all over the country. In the winter, they move to the southeastern part of the country. I don't know where you are, but with the mild winter we have been having until recently on the east coast it could be possible that some stayed further north than they usually do.
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TV, for sure. Vultures are interesting birds. Their heads and tails are bare (no feathers) so bacteria won't settle on them. I used to work in wildlife rehab, and, believe me they are stinky and bad-tempered. Their talons are relatively weak, compared to hawks and owls, but they can give you a nasty bite. Those wing feathers allow them to capture thermal winds and circle way up where they can see their meals. When I lived in California, I used to see them roost in the winter in eucalyptus groves. Just noticed a bunch of them the other day here in TN roosting temporarily in the pin oaks next to my property.
They do indeed make quick work of expired fauna and are closely related genetically to storks.
Last edited by BabyGreen; Jan. 28, 2013 at 12:17 PM.
I saw them in the Blue Hills (Milton, MA, maybe 8-10 miles from downtown Boston) so I don't think there is anywhere in the U.S. that is "too far east" for them. Didn't know they were also called buzzards till I moved west -- from watching TV and reading I had certainly heard of buzzards and was interested to finally see one -- until I realized I had been seeing them all along under a pseudonym!
Last edited by JoZ; Jan. 28, 2013 at 11:46 AM.
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They are ugly... turkey vultures. We have them all over Ontario. As much as I love hawks and other birds of prey, I hate those.
We call all vultures "buzzards" down here. FI, why do you hate them? They are ugly and awkward on the ground but I think they are magnificent looking when they are up in the air, just gliding along riding thermals. Plus they do provide a valuable service in eating carrion. Now, their cousins, the black vultures, are more agressive and will attack downed and newborn animals while they are still alive but Turkey Vultures pretty much wait until the animal is dead and beginning to decompose. After a rain, they will often perch on a tree or utility post with their wings outspread to sun themselves. If you've seen one do this you can tell where the Native Americans got their Thunderbird images.
Here in the mid Atlantic we call them as a group as "vultures". But they are made up of the two -- Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures.
While they remind us they are looking for dead things, I still admire them and the job they need to do. And they are stunning watching them WAY up high, catching thermals to stay airborne with the minimum amount of wing-flapping that requires energy (calories).
Amazingly efficient creatures, no matter how creepy they are when you see a gaggle of them fighting over carrion. And needed. Can you imagine the world or roadside kills with nothing to clean up the mess? Egad.
With a 60 acre farm, when I see them honing in on something overhead, I know I've got a problem somewhere -- whether a fish kill in the pond, or a dead deer in the pasture near the horses.
As much as they used to creep me out, I've learned to deeply appreciate them.
A wildlife rehabber, specializing in birds I met many years ago taking in a hurt swallow or two in the summer has a bunch of them which cannot fly anymore.
Kind of creepy driving up to her place to fix something that is dying, and meet with vultures bouncing all over the place (they tend to "hop" on the ground). But they have a life to live there.
At the front of her driveway she has a yellow sign that says "Vulture Crossing". Just a kick in the pants.