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Quick Facts about Vultures

Rohini Mohan
Vultures are carnivorous birds and essentially scavengers, which feed on dead or dying animal carcasses. These endangered birds of prey are extremely useful for maintaining balance in the ecosystem and within the food chain.

Committee of Vultures

A group of vultures are known as wake, venue or a committee of vultures.They have heavy and sharp beaks which are used for tearing into thick flesh. If in case they cannot tear into the dead animals hide, they will wait in wakes or venues for bigger carnivorous animals to attack the carcass.

Physical Features

Vultures have distinct bald heads and necks with absolutely no feathers. A bit of fur may be present in some species, but many have naked skin on their heads and neck.
This evolution helps vultures keep their faces and necks clean while feeding on carcass. Secondly, their bald head helps reduce much of their internal body heat as these birds live in warmer arid terrain.


Vultures never attack healthy animals, and will only prey upon ill and dying animals. The only exception being small rodents, lizards and snakes, which are killed nonetheless.
Vultures are able to digest meat and bones easily because of the complex acids in their digestive tract. These acids are even capable of dissolving and breaking down anthrax, cholera and botulism bacteria with ease, which is not possible for other animals.


Most vulture species mate for life and a female vulture will lay 2-3 eggs per mating season. Vultures attain the age of maturity by the 5th-7th year and have a life expectancy of 15-20 years.


These birds make nests using sticks and leaves, and usually built them in tree trunks and on top of cliffs. The same nest will be reused by the same vultures, for the next few years as long as it stays functional and safe for occupation.
Chick vultures feed on regurgitated food given by either of the parents.

Fly High!

The Ruppell's Griffon vulture is the highest flying species of vulture and has been recorded to fly as high as 37,000 feet. This incident occurred in 1973, when a Griffon vulture crashed with an airplane.
Their defensive behavior against an incoming threat such as hyenas and other predators, is to regurgitate and vomit onto the predators face. This vomit is strewn in a projectile motion and contains acids. The bird uses this tactic as deviation to distract the predator, after which it flies away. This regurgitated food if still undigested acts as food for the predators. In case the food has been digested, it acts as a deterrent, because it emits a foul smell and stings the predator's eyes, because of the acids present in the vomit.
Vultures urine contains disinfectants which is why these birds often urinate on their legs, in order to keep them free of infection and germs.
Vultures are also among the only birds to use tools to simplify their feeding habits. these birds are known to use stones to break open ostrich eggs.