3 Types of Vultures in New Jersey

Hello, I’m excited to introduce you to the three types of vultures that can be found in New Jersey.

Vultures are often misunderstood and underappreciated birds, yet they play a crucial role in our ecosystem as scavengers.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of vultures found in New Jersey, their characteristics, and where you can spot them.

So whether you’re a bird enthusiast or just curious about these impressive birds, keep reading to learn more about the vultures of New Jersey.

Black VultureBlack Vulture
Turkey VultureTurkey Vulture
Red-headed VultureRed-headed Vulture

Types of Vultures in New Jersey

1. Black Vulture

Black Vulture

The black vulture is a large bird of prey found in the eastern United States.

It is one of the largest species of vulture in North America and is a common sight in New Jersey.

The black vulture has a black body, a white neck and head, and a bare red face.

They have long wings and are capable of soaring for long periods of time. 

They typically hunt for carrion and can often be seen near roadsides, where they scavenge for roadkill.

They are also known to take eggs and nestlings from other birds.

The black vulture is one of the most common birds of prey in New Jersey.

They can be found in both rural and urban areas, often near woodlots and open fields.

They are also commonly seen in southern New Jersey, near the coast.

The black vulture is an important predator of small animals.

They have been known to eat squirrels, mice, rabbits, and other small mammals.

They also scavenge for carrion and are often seen near roadsides and open fields.

The black vulture is an important part of the New Jersey ecosystem.

They help to keep populations of small animals in check, and their scavenging helps to keep roadsides clean.

They are also an important source of food for other predators, such as hawks and owls.

The black vulture is a protected species in New Jersey. It is illegal to harm or disturb them in any way, and it is important to give them space if you encounter them in the wild.

They are an important part of the ecosystem and should be respected and appreciated.

2. Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

The Turkey Vulture is an impressive and majestic bird that is found throughout New Jersey.

This large bird of prey has a wingspan of up to five feet and can weigh up to four pounds.

It is the only vulture found in the United States and Canada and is a common sight in the skies of New Jersey.

The Turkey Vulture has a distinctive red head, which is the source of its popular name.

Its body is black, and its wings are broad and long, enabling it to soar and glide for long distances.

It has a hooked beak and strong, curved talons.

It is a scavenger and will feed on carrion, such as dead animals, roadkill, and even garbage.

The Turkey Vulture can be seen in many habitats throughout New Jersey, from wetlands and grasslands to forests and even urban areas. 

It is often seen soaring high in the sky, searching for food and a place to roost.

It is most active during the day when it can be seen circling over open fields or perched atop trees or telephone poles.

The Turkey Vulture is an important part of the natural ecosystem in New Jersey.

It helps to keep the environment clean by eating carrion and thus reducing the spread of disease.

It is also an important pollinator, as its droppings help to spread seeds and spores.

In addition to eating carrion, the Turkey Vulture also preys on small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

It is an opportunistic feeder and will also eat insects, eggs, and fruit when available.

It is a solitary bird but will sometimes gather in flocks during the migration or when food is abundant.

The Turkey Vulture is a fascinating bird and an integral part of the natural environment in New Jersey.

It is an important scavenger and pollinator, and its presence is a testament to the health of the local environment.

3. Red-headed Vulture

Red-headed Vulture

The red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) is an uncommon bird of prey found in New Jersey.

This species is one of the rarest vultures in North America and is currently listed as a species of special conservation concern in the state.

The red-headed vulture is a large raptor, measuring up to 30 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 6 feet.

Its plumage is mostly black with a white neck and head, and its distinctive red head is the source of its common name. 

These vultures have hooked beaks, powerful talons, and stout bodies, all of which help them hunt and scavenge for food.

The red-headed vulture is a scavenger, feeding on carrion and sometimes small mammals or birds.

It is also an opportunistic feeder, taking advantage of human waste and other food sources.

Vultures are essential to the ecosystem, as they help to clean up dead animals and keep the environment healthy.

The red-headed vulture can be found in New Jersey in the spring and fall during its migration periods when it is seen along the coast and in the interior of the state. 

During the summer, the vulture can be found in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey.

It is also seen in some parts of North Jersey, though less frequently.

The red-headed vulture is an important part of the avian community in New Jersey and is an important indicator of the health of the environment. 

Unfortunately, the species is threatened by habitat loss due to development and illegal hunting.

The New Jersey Nongame and Endangered Species Program are actively working to protect this important species and its habitat.

With conservation efforts, the red-headed vulture can continue to thrive in New Jersey, providing an important ecological service to the environment and giving birdwatchers a chance to catch a glimpse of this rare and beautiful species.


In conclusion, the three types of vultures found in New Jersey – the turkey vulture, the black vulture, and the rare and endangered Red-headed Vulture – are fascinating birds with unique characteristics and behaviors.

Despite their often-maligned reputation, vultures are important members of our ecosystem, playing a crucial role in cleaning up carcasses and helping to prevent the spread of disease.

By understanding and appreciating these birds, we can help to protect them and the important role they play in our environment.

So, the next time you see a vulture soaring high in the sky or perched on a tree branch, take a moment to appreciate their beauty and their important contributions to our ecosystem.


What is the difference between turkey vultures and black vultures?

Turkey vultures have a red, featherless head, while black vultures have a black, featherless head. Turkey vultures also have a more slender and longer wingspan, while black vultures are stockier with shorter wingspan.

Are vultures beneficial to the ecosystem?

Yes, vultures are beneficial to the ecosystem as they help to clean up carcasses and prevent the spread of disease.

Can vultures harm humans or pets?

Vultures typically do not harm humans or pets, as they are scavengers that feed on carrion. However, it is important to keep a safe distance from vultures, as they may become aggressive if they feel threatened.

Where can I go to see vultures in New Jersey?

Vultures can be seen throughout New Jersey in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, and near bodies of water. Look for them soaring high in the sky or perched on tree branches or buildings. They are most commonly seen during the warmer months of the year.

Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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