Encyclopedia Article


A large scavenger bird that subsists on the flesh of dead animals, also known as carrion, and occasionally small living mammals it takes down as prey. The most common buzzard in the Southwest is the turkey vulture, which is easily recognized by its long wings, distinctive flight feathers, and bald red head. The wings of all buzzards are set at an angle, known as a dihedral, to its body, which allows buzzards to fly in tight circles high above the ground as they look for food. They have black and brown plumage and a bald red head. As buzzards eat decaying flesh their bald heads protect them from getting covered in putrescent flesh which can have a viscous consistency. Buzzards have specially functioning immune systems that allow them to eat dead flesh and not get sick.

Photo Credit: 

"Soaring Turkey Vulture, February 3, 2007" by Kerry Sanders is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.