Turkey vultures can be found in deserts, savannas, grasslands, tropic and temperate forests of North America, Central America, and South America. The turkey vulture’s head is bald and red like its namesake the turkey. The vulture’s bald head keeps it free of bacteria and unwanted pieces of carrion which it eats. Carrion is the carcass or body of a dead animal. After mealtime, vultures will perch in the sun and whatever managed to cling to its head during eating will bake off in the sun. The turkey vulture locates its food by sight and smell. Turkey vultures search for pockets of rising warm air called thermals. When they reach the top of a thermal they can dive across the skies at speeds near 60 mph. They can also glide on a thermal for over six hours at a time without flapping a wing.
The black vulture is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
In the United States turkey vultures are used to aid engineers in locating gas leaks; the engineers pump strong-smelling gases through pipes and note where the vultures gather.