Species (Cathartes aura) of long-winged, long-tailed vulture (family Cathartidae), about 30 in. (75 cm) long, with dark plumage, whitish beak and legs, bare red head covered with whitish bumps, and a 6-ft (1.8-m) wingspread. It uses its keen sense of smell to find carrion. It occurs throughout the Americas except in northern Canada; the northerly and southernmost populations are migratory.
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Chiefly British term for any of several birds of prey of the hawk genus Buteo (family Accipitridae) and, in North America, various New World vultures, especially the turkey vulture. In Australia, a large hawk of the genus Hamirostra is called a black-breasted buzzard. The buteos, also called buzzard hawks, can usually be distinguished when soaring by their broad wings and expansive rounded tail. The plumage of most species is dark brown above and white or mottled brown below; the tail and underside of the wings are usually barred. Buteos customarily prey on insects, small mammals, and occasionally birds. They nest in trees or on cliffs. Species range over much of the New World, Eurasia, and Africa. The red-tailed hawk, the most common North American buteo, is about 2 ft (60 cm) long.
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The Old World and New World uses are almost antonyms.