- There are 23 types of vultures in the world.
- At least one type of vulture is found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
- 14 species – over half of them are considered threatened or endangered
Visit the kids zone for some vulture learning & fun HERE
a large bird of prey with the head and neck more or less bare of feathers, feeding chiefly on carrion
Did you Know?
- Vulture species are divided into New World and Old World groups. There are more vulture species in the Old World, and they are not closely related to New World vultures but are often considered together because they fill a similar ecological niche. New World vultures may be more closely related to storks than to other raptors.
- Vultures are relatively social and often feed, fly or roost in large flocks. A group of vultures is called a committee, venue or volt.
- In flight, a flock of vultures is a kettle
- and when the birds are feeding together at a carcass, the group is called a wake.
- Vultures are carnivores eating carrion. They prefer fresh meat but are able to consume carcasses that may have rotted so much as to be dangerous for other animals. This gives vultures a unique and important ecological niche because they help prevent the spread of diseases from old, rotting corpses.
- Vultures have excellent senses of sight and smell helping them find food – they can find a dead animal from a mile or more away. Because of this, vultures often have large territories and will spend a lot of time soaring to locate their next meal.
- Vultures have bare heads and often bare necks so that when they feed on rotting carcasses, bacteria and other parasites cannot burrow into their feathers to cause infections. This allows the birds to stay healthier while feeding on material that would easily infect other animals.
- A vulture’s stomach acid is significantly stronger and more corrosive than that of other animals or birds. This allows these scavengers to feed on rotting carcasses that may be infected with dangerous bacteria, because their stomach acid will kill that bacteria so it does not threaten the vulture.
- While vultures eat mostly dead animals, they are capable of attacking and will often prey on extremely sick, wounded or infirm prey, especially if food has been scarce and there are no carcasses nearby.
- It is a myth that vultures will prey on healthy livestock, but they are still regularly persecuted by farmers and ranchers who believe the birds to be a threat to their animals.
- Because vultures have weak feet and legs, they do not carry prey back to their chicks. Instead, they will gorge at a carcass and regurgitate food from their crop to feed their young.
- Vultures urinate on their legs and feet to help cool off on hot days, and their urine also helps kill any bacteria or parasites they’ve picked up from walking through carcasses to help keep the birds healthier.
- The Andean condor, found in South America, has the largest wingspan of any vulture in the world, with a spread of 10-11 feet when the bird extends its wings.
- When threatened, vultures vomit to lighten their body weight so they can escape more easily into flight. Vomiting also serves as a defense mechanism to deter predators that may be threatening the birds.
- New World vultures lack a syrinx and are nearly silent. They do not have songs, and their typical vocalizations are limited to grunts, hisses and similar sounds.
- Poisoning is the biggest threat to vultures. Other hazards include car collisions as they feed on road kill and electrocution from collisions with power lines.
- Vultures enjoy their own unique holiday, International Vulture Awareness Day, which is celebrated on the first Saturday of each September.
The Willife Protection Foundation
Join the team at South Lakes Safari Zoo working to save Vultures in the wild
Our conservation charity The Wildlife Protection Foundation manages projects that rescue, rehabilitate and release birds back to the wild. There are lots of ways you can help check out the website and keep supporting South Lakes Safari Zoo.