Turkey Vulture Wingspan Vs. Bald Eagle: Comparing Raptor Wingspans

With their immense wingspans, raptors like turkey vultures and bald eagles are built for soaring. But how do their wingspans compare? In short, bald eagles have a larger wingspan on average, typically ranging from 6 to 7.5 feet across. Turkey vultures measure around 5 to 6 feet wingtip to wingtip.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll compare and contrast the wingspans of turkey vultures and bald eagles. We’ll look at key factors like gender, geographic location, and utility of their wings for hunting and soaring.

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of how these raptors’ wingspans differ and why their sizes suit their lifestyles.

Average and Maximum Wingspans

One of the most fascinating aspects of raptors is their incredible wingspans. When it comes to comparing the wingspans of the Bald Eagle and the Turkey Vulture, there are some interesting differences to explore.

Bald Eagle Wings Typically 6 to 7.5 Feet

The Bald Eagle, with its majestic and iconic appearance, boasts an impressive wingspan that ranges from 6 to 7.5 feet. This makes it one of the largest raptors in North America. With such a wide wingspan, the Bald Eagle has the ability to soar through the sky with great ease and grace.

Its wings are designed for soaring and gliding, allowing it to cover long distances effortlessly. The Bald Eagle’s wingspan enables it to catch wind currents and reach impressive speeds during flight.

Turkey Vultures Average Around 5 to 6 Feet

On the other hand, the Turkey Vulture has a slightly smaller wingspan, averaging around 5 to 6 feet. While it may not be as large as the Bald Eagle, the Turkey Vulture still possesses impressive flying abilities.

Its wings are adapted for soaring and circling in search of carrion, which is its primary source of food. The Turkey Vulture’s wingspan allows it to efficiently glide over open habitats, using its keen sense of smell to locate decaying carcasses from great distances.

It’s worth noting that these measurements are averages, and individual birds may have slightly different wingspans. Factors such as age, sex, and geographic location can influence the size of a bird’s wingspan.

To learn more about raptors and their wingspans, you can visit Audubon or All About Birds, which are both trusted sources for bird enthusiasts and researchers alike.

Gender Differences

Female Bald Eagles Are Larger

When it comes to comparing the wingspans of Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles, gender differences play a significant role. Female Bald Eagles are generally larger than their male counterparts. This size difference extends to their wingspans as well.

On average, female Bald Eagles have a wingspan that ranges from 6 to 7.5 feet, while male Bald Eagles have a slightly smaller wingspan, ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 feet.

This difference in size can be attributed to sexual dimorphism, which is common in many bird species. The larger size of female Bald Eagles allows them to be more efficient when hunting and protecting their nests.

Their larger wingspan provides them with better maneuverability and the ability to cover greater distances in search of prey.

If you want to learn more about the fascinating world of Bald Eagles, you can visit the Audubon Society website, which provides in-depth information about this majestic bird.

Male and Female Turkey Vultures Similar in Size

In contrast to Bald Eagles, male and female Turkey Vultures are similar in size. Both genders have an average wingspan of approximately 5.5 to 6.5 feet. This lack of sexual dimorphism is a characteristic commonly observed in vulture species.

While the wingspan of Turkey Vultures may not vary significantly between genders, these birds have evolved unique adaptations that allow them to soar in the sky for long periods. Their broad wings and large primary feathers enable them to catch thermal updrafts, which helps them conserve energy while flying.

To delve deeper into the world of Turkey Vultures, you can explore the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website. It offers a wealth of information on these fascinating scavengers and their important role in ecosystems.

Geographic Variations

When comparing the wingspans of Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles, it is important to consider the geographic variations that exist within these species.

Larger Bald Eagles in Alaska

One interesting fact to note is that Bald Eagles found in Alaska tend to have larger wingspans compared to their counterparts in other regions. This is likely due to the abundance of food sources and the need for these birds to cover larger distances while hunting or scavenging.

Research conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has shown that the average wingspan of a Bald Eagle in Alaska can reach up to 8 feet, making them one of the largest raptors in the world.

Consistent Wingspans for Turkey Vultures

Unlike Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures exhibit more consistent wingspans across different geographic regions. These scavengers can be found throughout North and South America, and their wingspans typically range between 5.5 to 6.5 feet.

This consistency in wingspan can be attributed to the similar flight patterns and hunting behaviors observed in Turkey Vultures regardless of their location.

It is fascinating to see how environmental factors can influence the size of raptor wingspans. Whether it is the abundance of food sources or the need to cover vast distances, these variations highlight the adaptability and unique characteristics of these majestic birds.

So, the next time you spot a Turkey Vulture or Bald Eagle soaring through the sky, take a moment to appreciate the impressive wingspan that allows them to navigate their respective habitats with grace and precision.

Utility for Hunting and Soaring

When comparing the wingspans of the turkey vulture and the bald eagle, it is important to understand their different functions and how they contribute to their hunting and soaring abilities.

Bald Eagle Wings Built for Power

The bald eagle, known for its majestic appearance and powerful hunting skills, has a wingspan that ranges between 6 and 7.5 feet (1.8 to 2.3 meters). This impressive wingspan allows the bald eagle to soar at great heights and cover vast distances while searching for prey.

The wings of the bald eagle are broad and sturdy, providing the necessary power to dive down and capture its prey with precision and strength.

With its keen eyesight, the bald eagle can spot a fish from a distance of up to 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) while soaring high above the water. Once it spots its prey, it uses its powerful wings to dive at incredible speeds, reaching up to 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour).

This combination of a large wingspan and strong wings make the bald eagle an efficient hunter in both coastal and inland habitats.

Turkey Vulture Wings for Efficient Soaring

The turkey vulture, on the other hand, has a slightly larger wingspan, ranging between 5.5 and 6.6 feet (1.7 to 2 meters). While not as powerful in flight as the bald eagle, the turkey vulture has adapted its wings for efficient soaring.

The wings of the turkey vulture are longer and more slender, allowing it to catch thermal updrafts and glide effortlessly through the air. These thermal updrafts are created by the sun heating the ground, causing warm air to rise.

The turkey vulture can take advantage of these thermal currents, allowing it to soar for long periods of time without flapping its wings.

This efficient soaring technique not only helps the turkey vulture conserve energy, but it also enables it to cover large areas in search of carrion. The turkey vulture is primarily a scavenger, feeding on dead animals.

Its keen sense of smell allows it to locate carrion from miles away, and its wings are perfectly designed for long-distance soaring to reach its next meal.

While both the bald eagle and the turkey vulture have impressive wingspans, it is clear that their wings are built for different purposes. The bald eagle relies on its powerful wings to hunt and capture prey, while the turkey vulture’s wings are adapted for efficient soaring to cover large areas in search of carrion.

Understanding these differences in wing structure and function helps us appreciate the unique abilities of these incredible raptors.


While both raptors boast impressive wingspans, the bald eagle’s larger 6-7 feet range surpasses the turkey vulture’s 5-6 feet span. Their differing wings help suit each species’ lifestyle, with bald eagles built for hunting power and turkey vultures for efficient soaring.

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