These very large birds are black above and black and gray below. They have featherless red heads and big hooked beaks; really they are quite ugly up close. The best way to identify them is to look for a shallow “V” their wings make as they soar.
The turkey vulture feeds on carrion, so it is commonly seen along roadsides. These birds perform an important function helping to clean up dead organisms. Their nests are very rudimentary and are sited often away from people, in rocky places or even ruins.
What brings it to the SBG?
They have seldom been observed actually on the ground eating their customary carrion; to date they have only been seen circling above the garden, so it is hard to say what draws them there.
When can I see it?
Mostly spring through fall as suggested in eBird records. Range maps show that Central Pennsylvania is on the border between the species’s year-round and breeding territory.