The ONLY Type of Vulture Found In Ontario! (2024)

What types of vultures can you find in Ontario?

vultures in Ontario

Lucky for you, no matter where you live in Ontario, you should be able to find vultures nearby!

These birds are not considered attractive or “pretty” to most people. Regardless, vultures are incredibly important to the environment because they eat dead animals that most other predators can’t stomach. Eliminating the rotting meat helps stop the spread of tuberculosis, rabies, and more!

Vultures are perfectly adapted to a life of consuming carrion. For example, their featherless heads and necks help keep themselves clean as they insert themselves inside decaying meat. Also, vultures have powerful stomach acid that allows them to be exposed to nasty things without problems, such as rabies, Black Plague, botulism, distemper, and anthrax.

Below is a list of the species of vultures in Ontario!


#1. Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

common vultures in Ontario

The Turkey Vulture is common in Ontario. Also called Turkey Buzzards, they are relatively easy to identify, as they are all black, with a bald red head and a pinkish bill. The name derives from their loose resemblance to a Wild Turkey.

Once you know what to look for, it’s easy to spot these vultures while they are flying. Look for a large raptor soaring in the sky making wobbly circles, whose wings are raised high enough to look like the letter “V.” It’s thought that this flying style helps them glide at low altitudes, which keeps them close to the ground to smell for food.

Turkey Vulture Range Map

Turkey Vultures use their highly developed sense of smell to locate carrion. Their sense of smell is so sensitive that they can detect dead meat from 8 miles (13 km) away. These birds actually prefer to eat fresh food, and they try to get to animals as quickly as possible after their death.

These birds are dark, and they absorb heat easily. To cool themselves off, they defecate on their legs to cool the blood and help them moderate their body temperature. Let’s just collectively say “Ewww!” and move on!

YouTube video

Look for Turkey Vultures in Ontario wherever you can find dead animals.

As you can imagine, they are often seen along roadsides eating animals that have been hit by cars. They are also frequently observed soaring the skies in the open countryside.

When these raptors are frightened, they can be so full of meat that they cannot rapidly fly away. In this case, you may see them projectile vomit what they’ve eaten to lose weight and escape. If they target the predator’s face, the material can be blinding. Bear in mind that even if they miss, they are vultures that are eating rotting meat, so just try to imagine the odor.

The only sound a Turkey Vulture can manage is hissing. They lack vocal organs. *Press PLAY above to hear the sound they make.*

Lastly, these scavengers are popular and have an entire day dedicated to them! The town of Hinckley (OH) celebrates “Buzzard Day” on March 15th every year. It’s an event that brings the community together as they welcome Turkey Vultures back from migration for the summer.

And here’s a fun fact:

I grew up in Hinckley and used to attend this event yearly, participating in everything from the pancake breakfast to helping count the returning vultures! 🙂

Length: 25-32 inches / 64-81 cm

Weight: 2-5 lbs / 0.8-2.4 kg

Wingspan: 63-72 inches / 160-183 cm


Do you need help identifying vultures?

Here are a few books and resources you can purchase that will provide assistance! (Links below take you to Amazon)


Which vulture species have you seen before in Ontario?

Leave a comment below!


To learn more about other raptors near you, check out these guides!

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2 Comments

  1. Turkey Vulture. At the top of my driveway as I was pulling in. He left whatever he was eating (hard to determine, it was white, no fur and translucent, so maybe something other than an animal or bird??) and moved inwards along the driveway, eventually flying onto the pine tree branches, flying from one to another, then flew off into the strand of trees. My first time seeing one. We do have wild turkeys, but I knew he wasn’t one of those. Neat to see. East of Lancaster, Ontario, about 1 km west from the Ontario / Quebec border.

  2. Brockville, Ontario. A Black Vulture and Turkey Vulture mating pair in my barn. Their two offspring are almost ready to leave the nest.