Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The head of an adult turkey vulture is red and bare of feathers and its bill is whitish at the tip. These characteristics help us identify it. For their first few months, however, young turkey vultures lack the red color on the head and have a black bill. These differences in the young birds are important badges of rank, identifying them as clumsy kids prone to mistakes and not responsible for social blunders. Young turkey vultures are sometimes mistaken by birders for black vultures, but can always be identified by their long tail, browner plumage, and the way they hold their wings in a 'V' as they fly. At first, young turkey vultures follow their parents in search of food, learning the ropes of food finding. Within a few weeks, they're on their own. Turkey vultures tend to hunt solitarily and typically, only one will be at a carcass at a time, unlike the more social black vulture. In late afternoon, however, turkey vultures gather at communal roosts for the night. It's at these roosts where a great deal of social interaction takes place and where the juvenile's different appearance earns it forgiveness for breaches of vulture etiquette.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.