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Bird of the Week: Turkey Vulture

Look upon the mighty vulture, soaring in the sky with its unusually good sense of smell for a bird!

This week’s Bird of the Week is….the turkey vulture.

Why did I choose this bird? Well, mostly because I was going back and forth with my mother about birds and she sent me this video of a turkey vulture just sitting in a tree in San Francisco.

The vulture’s just there! It’s very big and vulture-y. And then it soars away.

But even without this connection, turkey vultures have a lot going for them. Pic time!

Turkey vultureCredit: Veit/Flickr

I know that vultures are associated with, erm, death, but really, let’s focus on the magisterial wingspan here. Look at it fly!

Turkey vultureCredit: Renee Grayson

Here it is looking goofy as hell. Fact time! What say you, Audobon Field Guide?

A familiar sight in the sky over much of North America is the dark, long-winged form of the Turkey Vulture, soaring high over the landscape. Most birds are believed to have a very poor sense of smell, but the Turkey Vulture is an exception, apparently able to find carrion by odor.

OK so while your common toucan or emu is blundering through life barely knowing what smells are, the turkey vulture is out here being dazzled by the scent of roses and honey and pizza and dead mice. That’s a SKILL SET right there. One last pic.

Turkey vultureCredit: Brian Ralphs
Adult Turkey Vulture

Just a bird…sitting on a table….asking you if you’ve smelled any carrion. Godspeed, mighty vulture. Just, uh, don’t eat me.

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