One of the most common large birds in many parts of North America, the majestically-soaring turkey vulture is rarely as appreciated as eagles, hawks, or even the closely-related California condor.
Turkey vultures are scavengers that feed almost exclusively on carrion. By removing and consuming animal carcasses, they perform an important role in local ecosystems by reducing the spread of disease.
Though not currently endangered or threatened, the turkey vulture is protected under Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Killing or possessing a turkey vulture can result in a $15,000 fine and six months in prison.