In the United States, every state has dedicated transportation crews whose job is to remove dead road kill from the roadway, but in Florida, very few crews are needed when Florida’s Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) and Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) remain the vigilant waste management custodians for road-kill removal.
The Turkey Vultures have reddish heads while the heads of Black Vultures are black. The Turkey Vulture holds its wings in a slight “V” while soaring, whereas the Black Vulture’s wings are held straight.
Turkey Vultures are the only scavenger birds that can’t kill their prey and they have an extraordinary sense of smell. They are known to be able to smell carrion ( The decaying flesh of dead animals ) from over a mile away which is very unique in the bird world.
Vultures are part of nature’s clean-up crew ridden the landscape of deteriorating carcasses and helping to curb the spread of dangerous diseases and bacteria. Their stomachs have strong enzymes that kill off dangerous toxins and microorganisms.
American turkey vultures aren’t interested in your pets at all—or in our children, either, for that matter. They probably wouldn’t even eat a dead dog or cat that’s in the road. They prefer to eat herbivores, not carnivores or omnivores—in other words, they eat animals that eat plants, not meat.
Vultures are state and federally protected as a migratory bird, therefore it is unlawful to harm or kill them without a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. If however, the vulture is tearing up a screen porch, or chewing up shingles or roofs, then you may want to consider scaring them with Pyrotechnics.
The Turkey Vulture is a gentle and non-aggressive bird that is often seen standing with its wings spread in a “horaltic-pose” usually drying its wings, warming its body or baking off bacteria. The Turkey Vulture gets its name because of its red bald head that resembles the male wild turkey.
The Vulture’s life expectancy in the wild ranges upward of 16 years, with a captive life span of over 30 years being possible and the Turkey Vulture is awkward on the ground with an ungainly, hopping walk.
So, if you are a vegan laying on your back staring into the everglade sky watching clouds pass by, I would not stay too long because personally, I would not trust either vulture, not to take a peck at you testing to see if you are alive. 🙂
Remember these birds are the official and original waste management facilitators of the Florida Everglades so don’t be too afraid of them, but remember do not feed the wildlife. 🙂