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Class Aves
Order Accipitriformes
Family Cathartidae


Cathartes sp.—Turkey VulturesRegional distribution of Pleistocene Cathartes sp.


Rancholabrean: Bow Willow (Jefferson 2014: ?)

Mid Wisconsin: Central Park West, Irvine (Smith 2006)

Literature. Smith 2006


Cathartes aura —Turkey VultureRegional distribution of Pleistocene Cathartes aura

Carthartes auraFig. 1. Cathartes aura. Photograph by Lee Karney, courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Turkey Vultures occur throughout our region as warm-weather residents and during migration. These are scavengers and appear well adapted for foraging on smaller mammals, including road kill. Nesting often is in rocky alcoves.

In southeastern New Mexico, the Turkey Vulture appears to be limited to the terminal Wisconsin and Holocene; the same may be true for central southern New Mexico, dependent primarily on the age of the Conkling Cavern material. The common vulture throughout the state during the Wisconsin was the extinct Western Vulture (Coragyps occidentalis). At U-Bar Cave, the latter was more common, but Turkey Vulture remains do occur (Fig. 2).

Miller (1960) reported eggshell fragments from Rampart Cave as probably representing this species. However, it appears that Black Vulture eggs are similar, and Cathartes is not listed here.

Carthartes femur; modern and U-Bar CaveFig. 2. Left femur of modern Cathartes aura (left) and fossil from U-Bar Cave (UTEP 5689-164-2). Age ca. 14,000 radiocarbon years BP.


?Late Irvingtonian/Rancholabrean: Emery Borrow Pit (Jefferson 1991a).

Rancholabrean: San Pedro Lumber Yard (Jefferson 1991a).

Sangamon: San Pedro Lumber Co. (Jefferson 1991a)

Wisconsin: Carpinteria (Guthrie 2009).

Mid Wisconsin: McKittrick (Jefferson 1991a); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003); U-Bar Cave (Harris 1987: cf. gen et sp.).

Mid/Late Wisconsin: Sandblast Cave (Emslie 1988).

Mid/Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Sierra Diablo Cave (UTEP); Shelter Cave (Howard and Miller 1933).

Late Wisconsin: Blackwater Loc. No. 1 (Morgan and Lucas 2005); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003); Sandia Cave (Brasso and Emslie 2006) U-Bar Cave 14-15 ka (Harris 1989).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Balcony Room (Harris 1993c); Burnet Cave (Wetmore 1932); Boyd's Cave (Harris 1993c); Conkling Cavern (Howard and Miller 1933); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003); Stalag 17 (Harris 1993c); Stanton's Cave (Rea and Hargrave 1984).

Literature. Emslie 1988; Brasso and Emslie 2006; Guthrie 2009; Harris 1987, 1989, 1993c, 2003; Howard and Miller 1933; Miller 1960; Morgan and Lucas 2005; Rea and Hargrave 1984; Wetmore 1932.


Last Update: 15 Feb 2016