New Jersey’s turkey vultures are ‘tornadoes’ of death. They’re also amazing.

Turkey vulture

CHRISTOPHER MAAG / NORTHJERSEY.COM – Shari Stern’s turkey vultures follow her around, like dogs. The birds look so alike, sometimes Stern can’t tell them apart. Templeton and Virgil, the turkey vultures in question, experience no such trouble. Tame turkey vultures recognize their human caretakers, and show affection to the ones they like.

For turkey vultures, nibbling at the socks of their keepers is a favorite game.

“They will play with your shoelaces,” said Stern, education director at the Raptor Trust, a nonprofit group in Long Hill Township, Morris County, that runs education programs about hawks and rehabilitates injured birds. “They’re interested in our paintbrushes, tools and rakes. They want to play with the feeding bucket.” …

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