Family Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

So this is the single family that makes up the order Cathartiformes.

These are the New World Vultures and condors and can be found within North, Central, or South America.

While considered raptors–these birds are actually more scavengers than hunters. They feed on dead animals with little to no side effects from eating rotting flesh. The reason for that is that their gut is actually dominated with pathogenic bacteria. So any pathogenic bacteria that colonizes dead animals and would be detrimental to other animals causes little to no harm to these birds.

Turkey Vultures soaring overhead

The New World vultures and condors are actually the best-adapted birds for soaring due to their long broad wings and stiff tails. Usually that is how you can spot a vulture–look for a large soaring bird (and nine times out of ten it should be a vulture or condor). It is also interesting to note that these birds also lack the syrinx (or bird vocal cords), and therefore they don’t sing or call–but grunt and hiss.

The seven species are:

Turkey Vulture

Black Vulture

California Condor

Lesser yellow-headed vulture

Greater yellow-headed vulture

King vulture

Andean Condor

Three species can be found within North America: Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, and California Condor, and the other four species are found in Central and/or South America. Though the turkey and black vultures can also be spotted in Central and/or South America as well.

The California Condor is slowly making its way back from the edge of extinction, though it still has a long way to go (as of 2019–there were only a total of 518 condors in both the wild and zoos), and the Andean condor is also an endangered species as well.

The major photography goal is to get a picture of all seven species–preferably in the wild.