Turkey Vulture
(Cathartes aura)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (flickr.com/photos/jukka_jantunen)
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Turkey Vulture breeds in the southern-most parts of Canada's farmland and open forest habitats. Although not well monitored in Canada, the Breeding Bird Survey and the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario strongly point to dramatically increasing populations in Canada. The species, tolerant of human activity and flexible in its diet, appears to be adapting well to the changing landscape.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2010 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaLarge IncreaseHigh

Population estimate

Canada5,000 to 50,000 adults

Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population

CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

Although Turkey Vultures have been trapped, shot and heavily persecuted as a pest in the past, the species is now recognised as a beneficial scavenger (Kirk and Mossman 1998). Reasons for the recent dramatic population increases are not well known, but are likely varied and related to a combination of reduction of organochlorine and lead contamination from the environment (Kirk and Mossman 1998), climate warming trends, increased deer populations, and the increase in carrion as a results of expanding road networks and increased traffic volume (Peck 2007).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type