Vultures are ecologically essential and one of the major players in the maintenance of the ecological balance. Let’s check out the vulture bird facts that you may or may not have heard ever before. These will certainly change the way you look at them. These are also essential to ensure that we spread the word and make people across the world aware about these birds.
Interesting Vulture Bird Facts
So, let’s check out the facts on vultures.
What’s The Collective Noun For Vultures?
Vultures are sociable creatures and are often seen as a collective unit, but the name assigned to a group of vultures all depends on what they are doing at that given time.
Like most bird groups, vultures can be referred to as a flock, though they can also be labelled as either a venue, volt, or a committee. However, when it comes to the vulture group feeding around a carcass, they are called a wake, and when the birds are in flight formation, they are known as a kettle.
How Many Species Of Vulture Are There?
Besides Australia and Antarctica, at least one species of vulture can be found on any continent around the world.
There are 23 different vulture species altogether, however they are categorised based on whether they are a New World vulture species (found across the Americas and Caribbean) or an Old World vulture species (which are found typically in Africa, Asia, and also Europe).
Are Vultures Endangered?
Of the 23 species of vultures that exist, over half of them are considered either Threatened, Endangered, or Critically Endangered as a result of human impact. Besides being electrocuted and poisoned from poached animal carcasses, vultures are also facing issues such as habitat fragmentation and increased human conflict.
Which Vulture Has The Biggest Wingspan?
The Andean condor is the largest of all the vulture species, spreading a wingspan of almost 3.5 metres across! Weighing up to 15 kilograms, the Andean condor uses air currents and thermal air currents (depending on their location) to help keep their heavy bodies in flight.
How Do Vultures Keep Cool?
‘Urohydrosis’ is a process in which an animal urinates on itself in order to cool down when temperatures reach blistering highs. However, vultures also use this technique as a means to disinfect their legs of bacteria following a feed on a rotten carcass as their urine possesses high levels of acid.
How Can Vultures Digest Bones?
As well as their urine, vultures also have extremely strong acids inside their stomachs. These acids not allow help the birds to fight and destroy lethal bacteria, but also help to break down the bones of the carcasses that the birds devour, which contribute between 70-90 per cent of their overall diet.
How Do Vultures Find Carcasses To Feed On?
Despite the tales, vultures do not possess a sixth sense to detect, or smell dying animals. Circling vultures are in fact surveying areas for food and will use their other senses to spot, smell or hear other birds feeding on a carcass so that they can fill their voids before predators beat them to it.
How Important Are Vultures?
Vultures play a vital role in the clean-up of the environments in which they live. Often referred to as ‘Nature’s Clean-Up Crew’, their scavenging ways help to prevent the spread of diseases, such as rabies and tuberculosis through clearing away carcasses.
How High Can Vultures Fly?
Thermals help these birds to reach incredible heights, most of which would be deadly to other species of birds. A series of cardio-vascular adaptations means that vultures are able to fly at heights where oxygen levels are at their thinnest, with one particular Ruppell’s griffon vulture reaching almost 11.5 kilometres!