Vultures, also known as buzzards, are scavenging birds which feed on the remains of dead animals. Two species of vultures are found in North Carolina, the Turkey Vulture, Cathartesaura, and the Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus. The black vulture is more common in eastern North Carolina while the turkey vulture is more common in the mountains and the Piedmont.
The turkey vulture is a very large bird, brownish-black in coloration. The head is bare of feathers and is colored red on adult birds and black in immatures. The beak is long and pinkish-red with a tan tip. The feet are rather weak with blunt talons. They are easily identified in flight by their dark color and large size. As they soar and circle overhead they also hold their wings in a slight V. From underneath, the leading edge of the turkey vulture's wings appear dark and the trailing edge light in color. Turkey vultures range in length from 25 to 32 inches with a wingspan of up to 6 feet. Because of their large size, vultures are sometimes mistaken for eagles when seen from a distance.