Turkey Vulture – Spirit Animal, Totem, Symbolism and Meaning

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The turkey vulture, (also called the turkey buzzard, buzzard, the John crow or carrion crow), is the most widely spread vulture in the Americas. This bird lives in areas from southern Canada to the south of South America. Their habitats include subtropical forests, pastures, deserts and shrublands.

This vulture isn’t a close relative to the vultures of Europe, Asia and Africa, although there is a strong resemblance to them.

This bird is a scavenger and feeds mostly on carcasses. Its exquisite sense of smell helps it find food. It also flies low to be able to detect the gasses produced by the decaying bodies of dead animals.

While flying, the turkey vulture uses the power of the wind mostly. These birds live in large groups of up to several hundred individuals.

The turkey vulture doesn’t have a syrinx, which is a vocal organ that birds have, so it’s only able to produce sounds such as low hisses and grunts. These birds hiss usually when they feel threatened or while fighting other vultures. They grunt sometimes during their courtships.

It makes its nest in hollow trees, caves or marshlands. It usually has two chicks per year. This bird doesn’t have many natural predators.

The name turkey vulture came from the resemblance of the male bird to the male wild turkey.

Both females and males have the same color and have a similar size. Their heads are red, usually without feathers and they are not proportional to their bodies. They undergo a process of molting during the winter.

The turkey vulture often stands with its wings spread. It is believed that it does that to dry its wings or warm its body. Other vultures have the same behavior, as well as storks.

These birds could be preyed upon by some owl, hawk, and eagle species. Raccoons and opossums attack their eggs. The turkey vulture defends itself by disgorging half-digested meat, which has an awful smell and scares away most of the potential attackers from its nest.

It also throws its vomit in the enemy’s face if it gets close enough. Sometimes it has to throw up the undigested meal it had just eaten to fly away from a potential predator.

These birds are known for their weird hopping walk on the ground. They need a lot of effort to fly off the ground, and before taking off they first flap their wings and hop on their feet.

Turkey vultures have special courting rituals. They gather in a circle and perform some hopping moves around the circle with partially spread wings. Their nests are very simple.

Both the male and the female lie on the eggs and feed the young. They care about them for up to 2.5 months. The chicks attacked by a predator in the nest also defend themselves by hissing and regurgitating food.

Turkey vultures feed on carcasses. They prefer the ones which have recently died, avoiding the ones already putrefied. They sometimes eat plants, fruits, or insects. They almost never kill their prey.

Their diet plays a very important part of the ecosystem because it removes the carcasses which are a source of disease.

The turkey vulture discovers the carcasses using its excellent sense of smell.

Many other vultures and condors follow the turkey vulture to find their food because they don’t have such a developed smelling ability.

Their feces is very dangerous, and it can make damage or kill trees and other vegetation.

What does the Turkey Vulture Symbolize?

The turkey vulture symbolizes cleanliness, adaptability, loyalty, community, innovation, protection, death, rebirth, resourcefulness, renewal, patience, perception, tolerance, trust, excellent sense of smell, defensiveness, protection, etc.

This bird is a very powerful totem animal and it brings many gifts to those who are fortunate to have it as their totem.

The Meanings of Turkey Vulture as a Spirit Animal

The Turkey Vulture as a spirit animal can have many different meanings, and here are some of them:

Defensiveness and protection. Turkey vultures are known for their special abilities and tactics for protection and defense, which they use to defend and protect them and their loved ones.

The lesson that the turkey vulture teaches you is to use all available means to defend yourself when you or someone you care about is in jeopardy.

Cleanliness and hygiene. Although the turkey vulture feeds on dead animals, which is an association to decomposition, bacteria and disease, by doing that, it actually prevents spreading the disease because it eats the source.

As a totem animal, it teaches us of the importance of maintaining a good level of hygiene to protect ourselves and others from disease.

Adaptability. The turkey vulture is one of the most adaptable creatures. It feeds on carcasses and rotten flesh, and its digestive system is built to easily process such food. These birds are also resistant to the deadly bacteria in their diet.

Because of that, the turkey vulture as a spirit animal, teaches us the gift of adaptability and making the most of all circumstances, whether good or bad.

It is asking us to adapt to whatever conditions life puts us in, and teaches us to believe in our ability to survive and overcome any obstacle we come across.

Resourcefulness. The turkey vulture is a very resourceful bird. Although it prefers feeding on recently died animals, it can also settle for the ones which are already decomposed, and, if necessary, it will feed on insects, plants and fruits.

The turkey vulture spirit animal is teaching you to be resourceful and make the most of what you have.

If you have it as your totem, you are most likely very resourceful as well.

Patience. The turkey vulture patiently waits for its chance to get its prey. This totem animal is teaching you the gift of patience and waiting for the right moment to act. It teaches you not to rush into things, but carefully think them through.

With the turkey vulture as your totem animal, you are most likely a very patient person and you never make haste decisions or have thoughtless reactions.

Turkey Vulture as Your Totem Animal

If the turkey vulture is your totem animal, you are most likely very efficient and know how to save your energy instead of wasting it on things which don’t matter.

You most likely have the ability to see beyond the 3D world, and sense and see the energy and aura of other people.

You are calm and patient. You don’t get easily upset over things you cannot change and you rather go with the flow. You know that you will eventually find or get what you seek and you wait in peace until that moment comes.

You can become very protective towards the ones you consider close.

You most likely have an inner understanding of the world.

Sometimes you could be considered opportunistic.

What if the Turkey Vulture Appears in Your Life?

If the turkey vulture appears in your life, it might be a reminder not to rush into things and decisions, but patiently wait until some circumstances fall in place, or until you think enough about the circumstances.

The turkey vulture reminds you to use all available resources to achieve what you desire or to solve some problems.

It encourages you to independently choose the path you will follow. It reminds you to rely on your intuition and inner guidance to go through some situations.

When this bird appears in your life it might indicate the need to protect yourself or someone from a danger. 

When to call on Turkey Vulture?

You should call on Turkey Vulture as your spirit animal when:

  • You need to adapt to some circumstances or some changes;
  • You need to make the most of the resources you have;
  • You need to protect yourself and the ones that are close to you;
  • You need to find peace in your life;
  • You need to be patient in some situation;

Dreams about Turkey Vulture – Interpretation and Meaning

Seeing the turkey vulture in a dream, could be a good sign. It could indicate cleansing yourself from the past. It could also indicate insight and valuable information from your experiences. You might find a solution to some current problems using your experience. This dream could be asking you to learn from your past mistakes and don’t allow yourself to make them again.

This dream could also symbolize you or someone from your surroundings being opportunistic.

It could also indicate that someone is using you, or waiting for your mistakes so that it can use them against you. This dream could also symbolize someone who is benefiting from your work.