Spent part of my day hanging out with George, a 33-year-old turkey vulture! George is an old man, but he loves spreading his wings in the sun!
It is thought that vultures spread their wings to help them regulate their body temperature. A vulture’s body temperature can vary up to four degrees, especially over a cool night! Dark coloration and a large surface area make a good combination for absorbing some heat from the sun’s rays. This is why we joke that George is solar powered!
There is also a theory that when birds sun, the sunlight or the heat they absorb can help decrease the number of parasites and microorganisms that populate their feathers. This might prove helpful for a vulture, when their diet of carrion can have lots of bacteria growing on it.