Turkey Vultures: Photos Reveal an Icon of the American West

Necessary and appreciated

Turkey Vultures

(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher)

Turkey vultures are certainly Mother Nature's best clean-up crew. They are vital to the natural ecology as they remove the many rotting animal carcasses from the land. It is a dirty job, but these magnificent birds do it so very well. Some folks think they are ugly, while others just see the ole turkey vultures being appropriately attired for the important job Mother Nature assigned them to do. Man's recent appreciation of all vultures has resulted in these unique birds enjoying their own holiday. International Vulture Awareness Day is celebrated each September around the world at hundreds of aviaries, zoos and bird refuges where everyone can learn just how important and interesting these birds are to our natural world.

Live Science Contributors