While the terms buzzard and vulture are used interchangeably in the United States to describe the turkey vulture, buzzards and vultures are two unique birds. The common buzzard is a hawk, native to Europe and Asia, and it has no relation to the turkey vulture.
The common buzzard is of the genus Buteo, making it a close relative to such familiar birds as the red-tailed and broad-winged hawks. The common buzzard is an opportunistic hunter. Like most Buteos, common buzzards often soar, scanning the ground below for small mammals, reptiles and birds. They also feed from carrion and occasionally hunt for insects in fields after plowing.
The turkey vulture is native to the Americas. Like other New World vultures, the turkey vulture is genetically closer to storks than to hawks and falcons. Old World vultures, on the other hand, belong to the same family as raptors. This means that Old and New World vultures are an example of convergent evolution; both groups have structural and behavioral similarities and fill the same niche but aren't genetically similar. Turkey vultures, like other vultures, feed on carrion. Turkey vultures, however, have an excellent sense of smell and are often the first vultures to arrive at a carcass and signal its presence to other species.