Turkey Vulture, Newport, Oregon on 12 September 2008 by Greg Gillson.
The Turkey Vulture is familiar to all as it rocks unsteadily over the summer landscape of North America searching for carrion.
These birds have two-toned black wings and the head is bald. Adults have red head skin, while the skin on the head of younger birds is black. They really do look rather like turkeys when on the ground.
Some vultures winter in the southern parts of the Pacific Northwest, though most depart in September and October. They arrive again from February to April.
As common as these birds are, it is quite hard to actually find a nest. Eggs are laid on the bare floor of caves or hollow logs or in similar situations.
So how did the term "buzzard" come to be applied to the Turkey Vulture? Buzzard is the European term for the Buteos, the soaring raptors such as our Red-tailed Hawk. Early European settlers of the New World called all the unfamiliar soaring raptors buzzards, including the Black and Turkey vultures. With the passage of time the name buzzard stuck to the vulture but, incomprehensibly, not to the Buteo hawks in North America.