Turkey Vulture

(Cathartes aura)

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding


not listed

Turkey Vulture
Photo by Christa Rittberg

The head is bare and red. The wings are all black.



26 to 32in length

66 to 72 wingspan



Usually silent. It will opccasionally produce a soft clucking or whine, or if threatened a hiss or grunt.


Similar Species

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) has a gray head and silvery tips on its wings. It is a rare visitor to Minnesota.


Flies over open country, shorelines, roads; rarely forests.



April to May and September to November









Uncommon to common migrant and breeder



The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

Class Aves (birds)


Accipitriformes (hawks, eagles, kites, and allies)


Cathartidae (American vultures and New World vultures)


Cathartes (Turkey and Yellow-headed Vultures)

Subordinate Taxa

Chilean Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura jota)

Eastern Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura septentrionalis)

Tropical Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura ruficollis)

Western Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura aura)













Visitor Photos

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Bobbi Johnson

Turkey Vulture   Turkey Vulture

… taken on the way down to Two Harbors via a back road.

Christa Rittberg

Turkey Vulture    
Turkey Vulture   Turkey Vulture

Dan W. Andree

Turkey Vulture   Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture's....

Turkey Vulture    

Kirk Nelson

Turkey Vulture   Turkey Vulture

I was about 20 feet away and watched this vulture for a couple minutes before it flew away. I have seen them flying along the river now and again, but this is the first time I’ve seen one on the ground here.

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
Turkey Vulture    
Turkey Vulture   Turkey Vulture




Turkey Vulture
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Ed McVicker
Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture
JMC Nature Photos
Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vultures
Craig A. Mullenbach
Turkey Vultures



Visitor Videos

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Kirk Nelson

Turkey vulture near Ford Dam 2019 07 13
Published on Jul 14, 2019


I've seen them flying along the river, but this is the first time I've seen one on the ground here. I was about 20 feet away and watched it for a couple minutes before it flew away.


Cannon River Wilderness Area_Turkey Vultures
Published on April 29, 2014


Turkey vultures soaring on the winds above the Cannon River Wilderness Area near Faribault, MN.

Other Videos

Cool Critters: Turkey Vultures - KQED QUEST


Uploaded on Jun 24, 2009

QUEST visits the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and talks to an expert about Turkey Vultures.

Turkey vultures!


Uploaded on Oct 28, 2009

On today's CapeCast: We salute the "Bird of Death," the turkey vulture and find out what they're up to on Cape Cod.

Turkey Vulture


Uploaded on Jan 12, 2011

The Turkey Vulture's head, like its namesake, is bald and red.

25 to 32 inches long, with a wingspan around 6 feet.

Healthy adult Turkey Vultures weigh approximately 6 pounds.

Vultures are large, carrion-eating birds. For years, it was believed that all vultures were raptors, members of the order Falconiformes. In 1994, however, it was discovered that the vultures inhabiting the American continents share a common ancestor with storks and ibises. Now, American vultures, or New World vultures, are recognized as Ciconiiformes, in the family Cathartidae.

Music: Rise of the Titans by Butterfly Tea http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/



Visitor Sightings

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Bobbi Johnson

Location: Lake County

… taken on the way down to Two Harbors via a back road.

Turkey Vulture

Tim Wondra

Location: Stillwater, MN


Location: Maple Grove, MN

I think it was a vulture, the head was red, larger than a crow and smaller than a turkey. It was more interested in the road kill than me approaching in the car. I stopped and it did fly away.

John Valo

If the head is red, then it is a Turkey Vulture, not a Black Vulture.

Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington County

Two Turkey Vulture slow soaring above my place in NW Pennington county on a northly course.

Daniel Duggan

Location: 120th St. W. Rosemount, MN

Eating a small dead animal on the side of the road. The bird took flight when my car approached and perched in nearby tree on the Lebanon Hills Park side of the road.

Ken N.

Location: Entrance to Northbound Hwy 52 at 80th st. Inver Grove Hts. Mn.

Feeding on small carcass roadside


Location: Victoria, Eastern Carver County, south shore Lake Minnetonka

nesting pair

Dan W. Andree

Location: rural Norman Co. MN

Turkey Vulture

Kirk Nelson

Location: Upper Landing Park, St. Paul

Saw a turkey vulture flying over the Mississippi River near downtown St Paul, then watched it swoop down and land on the riverbank, just out of view.  I’m guessing it was after a dead fish.  It flew off before I got closer to take a photo.

Dan W. Andree

Location: rural Norman Co. MN

Turkey Vulture

Kirk Nelson

Location: Just south of the Ford Dam in St. Paul

I was about 20 feet away and watched this vulture for a couple minutes before it flew away. I have seen them flying along the river now and again, but this is the first time I’ve seen one on the ground here.

Turkey Vulture


Location: Minnehaha Park

I saw about 8 flying, and wondered if young are going on familial test flights, or if there’s something yummy in the woods.

Sandy Sedivy

Location: west side of Otter Tail Lake on Co Hiway 145 in Otter Tail County

I stopped at the Corner Store and saw about 40-50 turkey vultures traveling toward me from the north. It was very windy, and many simply soared above me in no apparent hurry. I was able to video some of it on my mobile phone. 


Location: Osseo, Minnesota

I was outside at about 8:30 AM and something huge caught my eye circling slowly overhead, just above the tree tops. It was a turkey vulture! It flew slowly and gracefully, looking at the ground the entire time. I feared it was looking for my chipmunk, Chippie, but thankfully saw Chippie later in the day, safe and sound.

Camille Sabie

Location: Pipestone

Pipestone has a around a dozen birds that hang around the railroad tracks at the south side of town. We’ve seen them around here for at least the last ten years.

Scott Cole

Location: Mankato, West

Returned to roosting trees today at about 5:15 pm. Carney and Moreland!

Tim Gibson
6/27/2017 (7 am)

Location: St. Cloud, MN 56301

Feeding on unidentified carrion along with several crows in small parking lot on corner of 8th Street and 18th Ave South

ML 1201

Location: Oakdale

One spotted very low in the afternoon in the swamp areas near Walton park.

R A Marsh

Location: Faribault MN

Eleven very large birds riding thermals this afternoon over Willow St. in Faribault near the river.

Scott Cole

Location: NW corner Carney Ave. and Moreland Street

This evening the vultures returned to their roosting tree. The first 8 roosted this evening. They began to land around 7:30 PM.


As of now, there are 34 vultures. They are split between two trees. 

Gloria Broker

Location: Duluth, MN

It landed on a birch tree in my yard and spread its wings. When it did, my dog barked and scared it away.


Location: Glendorado, MN

Georgeanne Schulz

Location: morristown mn


Location: 7 miles north of Underwood

Pair sitting on our barn with wings spread.


Location: Rockford, Mn

Flock of about 20 vultures flying over the town at dusk.

Mary Kae

Location: Eagan

Seen in the city in a wooded area

Scott Cole

Location: West Mankato near intersection of Carney Ave. and Moreland Street

A large number (at least 40) nest in the trees near our home. Fly out in the morning and return between 5:30 and 6:30 pm. They are here Spring into Fall. The general pattern is to fly east in the morning and return evenings.

Kirk Nelson

Turkey vultures riding the wind, April 2014


MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings

Afton State Park

Badoura Jack Pine Woodland SNA

Banning State Park

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Bur Oak WMA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Turtle Preserve SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Carver Park Reserve

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Chimney Rock SNA

Chippewa Prairie

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Compass Prairie SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Des Moines River SNA

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Falls Creek SNA

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Foxhome Prairie

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Great River Bluffs State Park

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

John A. Latsch State Park

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Kellogg Weaver Unit

Kettledrummer Prairie

King’s and Queen’s Bluff SNA

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Langhei Prairie SNA

Lawrence Creek SNA

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Maplewood State Park

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

McKnight Prairie

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Mississippi River County Park

Moose Lake State Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

North Fork Zumbro Woods SNA

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Pankratz Memorial Prairie, North Unit

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Crookston Prairie Unit

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Regal Meadow

Rice Lake State Park

Ritter Farm Park

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Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Rockville County Park

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sakatah Lake State Park

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Sedan Brook SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Sisters Prairie

Seven Springs WMA

Sibley State Park

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Swedes Forest SNA

Tiedemann WMA

Townsend Woods SNA

Twin Lakes SNA

Two Rivers Aspen Prairie Parkland SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Wahpeton Prairie WMA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA






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