Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

Turkey Vulture Wingspan: How Big It Is & How It Compares to Other Birds

Last Updated on

turkey vulture bird

Also referred to as a buzzard, the Turkey Vulture is a scavenger bird that seeks out dead flesh as a main source of nutrition. This vulture lacks vocal organs, so they only hiss and grunt when necessary. They can be found nesting in the hollows of trees, deep inside caves, and throughout thick shrubs.

Species name Cathartes aura
Population Estimated 18,000,000
Range Approximately 11,000,000 square miles

Turkey Vultures is one of just three different species that belong to the Cathartes aura genus. These birds are native to a large span of the area between Southern Canada and South America. This bird enjoys many types of environments, including shrublands, deserts, forests, and even pasture lands.

These birds are always dark in color, some almost black. They have red heads with bristles that can only be seen up close. Their white beaks are larger than the average bird’s, and they have long “fingers” at the ends of their wings.

Turkey Vulture Wingspan

The Turkey Vulture has a large wingspan of between 67 and 72 inches in length. There is no measurable difference in the wingspan between males and females, as all vultures tend to fall within the given wingspan range. The wingspan range simply depends on the specific bird’s size and their natural growth habits. Believe it or not, most vultures only weigh between 2 and 4 pounds in total!

  Wingspan Range Average Wingspan
Male Turkey Vultures 5.6–6 feet
1.7–1.8 meters
5.75 feet
1.75 meters
Female Turkey Vultures 5.6–6 feet
1.7–1.8 meters
5.75 feet
1.75 meters
Turkey Vulture
Image Credit: Piqsels

How Is Wingspan Measured?

The Turkey Vulture’s wingspan is measured from end to end while the wing is spread out. Obviously, this typically happens in captivity. Therefore, there is no real way to know the exact measurements of every Turkey Vulture in existence throughout the world.

Turkey Vulture Wingspan Compared to Other Birds of Prey

The Wandering Albatross is known to have the longest wingspan on earth, with an overall measured wingspan of a whopping 12 feet. Their long wings enable these birds to fly far distances and to traverse wild wind conditions. Many Albatrosses and Vultures are among the world’s lists of birds with the longest wingspans.

The Turkey Vulture is not on the world’s largest wingspan list, but nevertheless, it does encompass impressively large wings that can be intimidating to any land-dwelling being. Some Turkey Vultures can use their expansive wings to hunt and pick up prey that are found alone and vulnerable outside, even small dog breeds. The average wingspan of a Turkey Vulture is about 6 feet.

Turkey Vulture Wingspan Range Average Wingspan
Andean Condor 8–10.5 feet
3.3 meters
9 feet
2.8 meters
California Condor 9–9.5 feet
2.8 meters
9 feet
2.6 meters
Griffon Vulture 2.75–3.16 feet
.85 meters
3 feet
.8 meters
King Vulture 4–6 feet
1.2–2 meters
5 feet
1.8 meters
turkey vulture
Image By: Pixabay

Are All Bird Wings the Same?

Not all bird wings are the same. In fact, almost all bird species have unique wings and wingspans even if they are similar. Some have obviously different lengths, widths, markings, and features. Others look the same from afar, though that likely would not be the case with a firsthand look. Some birds’ wingspans are only a few inches in size, while others, like the Andean Condor, can display wingspans of more than 10 feet!

The Turkey Vulture typically has an impressive 6 feet of wingspan. Keep in mind that this is from end to end, so you wouldn’t be facing a bird with more than 12 feet of width when their wings are expanded! That said, this is still a bird with wings that are roughly the same size as a fully grown human being.

eagle divider


The Turkey Vulture is an amazing animal that is best admired in the wild. This species is almost impossible to keep in captivity while maintaining optimized health and happiness. If you see a Turkey Vulture in the wild, take a photo or video of it and upload it to social media. Everyone should enjoy the privilege of seeing these birds in their natural habitats!

You might also be interested in: Golden Eagle Wingspan: How Big It Is & How It Compares to Other Birds

Featured Image Credit: David Osborn, Shutterstock

About the Author Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Since 2000, Rachael has been a freelance writer, and has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens, so it's no surprise that animals happen to be her favorite topic to write about!