Vulture is the name of a bird that mainly preys on dead animals and occasionally hunts its own quarry. It is found across the world, with the exception of Antarctica and Oceania. Vultures are basically divided into two groups, namely Old World vultures and New World vultures. The former belong to the family Accipitridae and are found inhabiting Africa, Asia and Europe. The latter, on the other hand, belong to the family Cathartidae and are mainly seen in the warm and temperate areas of the Americas. In case you want to know more about the bird, read the interesting as well as amazing information provided in the following lines.
Eaters of the Dead: Vultures, as part of the group known as birds of prey, have acute eyesight, muscular legs and sharp bills. While most birds of prey feed on live animals, the vulture specializes in eating the bodies of the dead. When a particularly good prize is discovered, it is not uncommon to find up to six different species of vulture taking part in the feeding frenzy.
Skills and Adaptations: Some species have adaptations or skills suited to the scavenger way of life. The African white-backed vulture lacks feathers on its long neck. This helps the bird dig deep into a carcass without getting soiled. The small Egyptian vulture, which rarely has a chance when other larger vultures are tearing into a carcass, has learned to use stones to break open ostrich eggs. The Turkey vulture, often called a buzzard, has an acute sense of smell, enabling it to find roadkill before other vultures can beat it to its reward.
Old World and New World: The Old World vultures of Africa, Asia and Europe are not closely related to the New World vultures of the Americas. These birds are collectively called vultures because they look similar and fill the same ecological niche.
Fun Vulture Facts
– Vultures can remain aloft for hours, soaring gracefully on the thermals (warm air) on their long, broad wings.
– When flying the Turkey vulture rocks from side to side, rarely flapping its wings. Its wings are at a V-angle called a dihedral.
– New World vultures have no voice.
– The Hooded vulture (Old World) prefers wetter climates.
– Black vultures (New World) regurgitate when confronted.
– California Condor (North America) and Andean Condor (South America) are also vultures.
Cool Facts About Vultures
The Rueppell’s griffon vulture is the world’s highest flying bird. In 1973, one collided with an airplane off the Ivory Coast; at the time, the plane was flying at 37,000 feet.
Vultures can eat up to 20 percent of their own body weight in one sitting.
Vultures are equipped with a digestive system that contains special acids that will dissolve anthrax, botulism, and cholera bacteria.
Vultures do not go after healthy prey, but will attack wounded and dying animals.
New World vultures have the unusual habit of urohydrosis, or defecating on their legs to cool them evaporatively.
The bald, or lightly-feathered, head is specially designed to stay clean even when confronted with blood and bodily fluids present in the carcasses. Any remaining germs are baked off by the sun.
A group of vultures is called a venue, and when circling the air, a group of vultures is called a kettle.
By consuming the carcasses of diseased animals, vultures prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases such as rabies and anthrax among animals and humans.