Vultur aura Linnaeus, 1758, Veracruz, Mexico. Four supspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Urubu а tкte rouge; German: Truthahngeier; Spanish: Aura Gallipavo.
Depending on race 1.9–4.4 lb (0.85–2 kg); 25.2–31.9 in (64–81 cm); sexually monomorphic. Brownish black plumage with bare head and neck; skin color varies from pink to bright red.
Southern border of Canada in North America to Tierra del Fuego, Chile, winter migration from northern portions of United States to Central America and north and central South America. Has been expanding its range north over the last three decades.
Woodland, savanna, desert, and seashore.
Roosts socially and hunts for carrion in small groups or singly using olfaction. Lowest status at large carcasses generally subordinate to larger vultures. When caught will regurgitate and feign death.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Will feed on dead animals of any size but specializes on smaller carcasses found by relying on olfaction. Has been seen to feed on rotten fruit and vegetables.
Two eggs are brown blotched over a cream base; nests in shallow cave, on the ground in dense vegetation, or in hollow log; 38–41 days of incubation. Both parents tend eggs and young. Chick “down” color white gradually changing overall to dark brown as contour feathers emerge. Fledging from nest area at about 67 days with a relatively short parental dependency period of a few weeks.
Not threatened. Populations seem stable in most areas unless roost trees are destroyed. Expanded use of road kills and laws against shooting large birds are possible reasons for recent northward expansion.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Never used as food.
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