Turkey Vultures: Do They Hunt Live Prey?


Turkey vultures are one of the most fascinating birds found in North America. Known for their scavenging abilities, they have a reputation for feeding on carrion – dead animals. However, there is much debate surrounding whether turkey vultures also hunt live prey.

The Turkey Vulture’s Diet

The diet of turkey vultures primarily consists of carrion and garbage. Their sense of smell allows them to locate carcasses from vast distances, making them an essential part of nature’s cleaning crew. This scavenging behavior does not necessarily mean that these birds do not eat living prey at all; it only means that their primary source of nutrition comes from feeding off decaying flesh.

Hunting Behavior

While turkey vultures typically do not hunt live prey, there have been instances where they were observed catching small mammals or reptiles. These incidents are rare and usually occur when food sources are scarce or during mating season when the bird must provide food for its young ones. They wait until their target gets tired before swooping down to catch it with its sharp talons.


In conclusion, although turkeys may occasionally hunt live prey under certain circumstances like scarcity, hunger and need to feed youngs but in general they prefer feeding on dead animals instead because it’s easier and more abundant in nature as compared to hunting which requires effort and energy expenditure which might be harmful to the birds if repeatedly done over time especially since they’re known as migratory species so preserving energy is crucial through long flights between breeding areas across continents during springtime migration season each year.