Interesting Facts About Vultures: The Scavengers Of The Jungle

Vultures are amazing birds, but they’re usually misunderstood. Learning just how important these birds are can assist you better appreciate their role in the avifauna of the world and even understand the significance of the ongoing conservation.
Vultures are huge birds which don’t hunt for food. Instead, they feed on the remains of the dead animals, known as carrion. Vultures utilize their broad wings to soar high in the sky, searching for food.
A group of vultures is known as a committee, wake, kettle, venue, or volt. The venue, volt, and committee refer to vultures resting in trees, while term kettle refers to the vultures in flight. Wake is mainly used to describe a group of vultures which are feeding.
Some species of vultures are the only legitimate scavengers in the African jungle. Unlike the hyenas, for instance, they never hunt for their own food, but instead, they feed on animals that have died due to illness or injury or on predators’ kills.
They use their excellent eyesight to scan over a wide area of ground. Once vultures spot any dead animal, they swoop down, and other vultures soon follow until several are squabbling over the carcass. The claws of a vulture are smaller than those of birds who hunt.
However, their strong feet are good for walking on the ground as they eat the carcass. A group of vultures can eat the meat of a whole animal very fast. Some vultures will even eat excessive food such that they find it hard to take to the skies again.
The brown vultures of Asia and Africa are related to hawks and eagles. American vultures are often black, and some locate food by following the foul smell of the decaying body. How many of these vulture facts do you know? Here are some more interesting facts about vultures.
1. When they’re in danger, vultures vomit to reduce their body weight so that they can escape into flight more easily. Vomiting also acts as a defense mechanism to deter any predators which may be threatening these birds.
Vulture’s vomit, followed by the action of flying away, is a common defensive mechanism against an adversary. The predator is rewarded with a free meal if the food is relatively undigested. Otherwise, the foul-smelling of the vomit acts as a deterrent and will sting predator’s eyes if it lands on their face.
2. There are 23 species of vultures in the world, and at least one species of vulture is found on each continent except Antarctica and Australia. Vultures are relatively adaptable birds found in a wide range of habitats, including the suburban regions. However, 14 species are considered either endangered or threatened.
3. Vulture species are divided into Old World (Africa, Asia, and Europe) and New World (the Caribbean and Americas) groups according to their ranges. There are more species of vultures in the Old World, and they aren’t closely related to the New World vultures.
However, the two groups are usually considered together since they fill the same ecological niche. Perhaps, New World vultures are more closely related to the storks than to other raptors.
4. Old World vultures don’t have a good sense of smell – they depend exclusively on excellent eyesight to find food.
5. Some vultures can smell. Well, at least one species can smell: the Turkey vulture. This is a special characteristic that is very rare in other birds, but Turkey vultures can sniff out a distinctive sulfurous smell from more than one mile away.
6. Vultures depend on other vultures to get around and to locate food sources. They always watch one another determine which thermal currents to ‘hop’ onto next, enabling them to maintain flight. Also, they keep a keen eye on the behavior of fellow vultures to note small movement changes which might suggest a bird has identified a food source.
7. Vultures have excellent eyesight. It’s believed they can spot a one-meter (three feet) carcass from 4 miles away on open plains. In some species, when an individual spots a carcass it starts to circle above it, and that draws the attention of fellow vultures which then join in.
8. Vultures don’t suffer from any food poisoning since they have extremely acidic stomach acids with a pH of nearly zero; these acids actually stop the spread of the infection.
9. The naked head of a common vulture is an adaptation to make sure that no feathers become soiled as it feeds inside a carcass; it also assists in thermoregulation, enabling a vulture to preserve or lose heat by exposing or hiding its head depending on the prevailing conditions.

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