vulture (aegypius monk) is a scavenger bird. There are 23 species of vultures in the world, and at least one type of vulture is found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Is about relatively adaptable birds found in a number of habitats, including the suburbs, but even with that adaptability, 14 species are considered threatened or endangered.

Vulture species are divided into New World (America and the Caribbean) and Old World (Europe, Asia and Africa) groups depending on their areas of distribution. There are more species of vultures in the Old World, and they are not closely related to the New World vultures. However, the two groups are often considered together because they occupy a similar ecological niche. New World vultures may be more closely related to storks than to other raptors.

We can appreciate the great wingspan of the vulture
We can appreciate the great wingspan of the vulture

Type

Andean condor, found in South America, has the largest wing span of any vulture in the world, with a spread of up to 3 meters when the bird spreads its wings.

griffon vulture The size of a crow is the smallest of these birds with a wingspan of only five feet. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa.

New World vultures lack a syrinx and are almost silent. They have no songs, and their typical vocalizations are limited to grunts, hisses, snapping peaks, and similar sounds that do not require complex vocal cords.

Features

The vulture has its head bare and often its neck as well, 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 could easily infect other animals.

Vultures have relatively weak legs and feet with broken claws, although they do have powerful claws. If a carcass is too stiff for them to open, they will wait for another predator to open the meat before feeding. That is why vultures are often seen with other scavengers.

The stomach acid of a vulture is significantly stronger and more corrosive than that of other animals or birds. This allows these scavengers to feed on decaying carcasses that may be infected with dangerous bacteria, as the acid kills those bacteria and does not threaten the vulture.

These flying vertebrates They have an excellent sense of sight and smell to help them locate food, and they can find a dead animal a kilometer or more away. Because of this, vultures often have large territories and spend a lot of time flying to locate their next meal.

Behavior

Unlike many raptors, vultures are relatively social and often feed, fly, or rest in large flocks. A group of vultures is called a committee, meeting, or flyer. In flight, a flock of vultures is a kettle, and when the birds feed together on a carcass, the group will be called a wake.

It is a myth that vultures surround dying animals waiting to feed. These birds are powerful fliers and soar while searching for food, but they cannot sense when an animal is dying. When they locate a carcass by the smell, sight or sound of other birds feeding, they quickly get closer before other predators find it.

Vultures urinate on their feet to cool off on hot days, a process called urohidrosis. Their urine also helps kill any bacteria or parasites they have detected while walking through carcasses or landing on dead animals.

Habitat

Larger species of vultures require a habitat that allows them to see or smell carrion as they fly in the sky. This means that their habitats often include plains or savannas, although some live in open mountainous regions. Some smaller species of vultures can be found in suburban areas.

Distribution

We can find these scavengers on every continent in the world except Antarctica and Australia. However, they are in serious danger of going extinct in some places, which means that this distribution could change in the near future.

Food

The vulture is a carnivorous bird and eats carrion almost exclusively. They prefer fresh meat but are capable of consuming meat that may have rotted so badly that it could be toxic to other animals. This gives vultures a unique and important ecological role because they help prevent the spread of disease from old and decaying carcasses.

They are capable of attacking and often prey on extremely sick or injured prey. This is more common if food has been scarce and there are no dead bodies nearby.

We can see a vulture wake.
We can see a vulture wake.

It is a myth that vultures feed on cattle healthy, but they are still regularly hunted by farmers and ranchers who believe that birds are a threat to their animals. However, they can feed on dead cattle and animals stillborn after calving or stillborn in breeding herds, although these incidents are rare.

Because vultures have weak legs and legs, they do not carry prey back to their chicks. Instead, they will gorge themselves on a corpse and regurgitate the food from their harvest to feed their young.

Predators

The vulture does not have many predators as they are large, smelly, and do not seem very tasty. Almost no one likes to eat a vulture.

Occasionally, a bird of prey like a halcon or an Eagle can steal a baby vulture from a nest. But adult vultures and condors have little to fear from predators.

When threatened, vultures vomit to lighten their body weight so they can escape more easily. The vomit also serves as a defense mechanism to deter predators that may be threatening the birds.

Reproduction

Vultures are believed to form lifelong bonds with a single individual (monogamy). They reach sexual maturity between 5 and 7 years of age. The females of the largest species they usually lay only one eggWhile the smaller species lay 2 to 3. Parents can produce young once every 1 or 2 years. Vulture eggs hatch for 38 - 68 days (depending on the species), and only 10% of chickens survive their first year.

State of conservation

The vulture is an animal that is considered endangered according to the IUCN Red List.

They face many threats that endanger their populations. Poisoning is the biggest threat to vultures, mainly from toxins or lead in the carcasses they eat. Other dangers include automobile collisions, as they feed off death on the road and electrocution from collisions with power lines.

Relationship with humans

Vultures provide great benefit to humans as they shed bodies that would otherwise rot and attract insects that carry disease to both livestock and humans. Furthermore, its highly corrosive stomach acids are capable of attacking bacteria and viruses, thus preventing the spread of deadly diseases, such as anthrax and rabies.

Vultures are in sharp decline due to a variety of reasons. They can die after eating cattle that have been treated with certain drugs, and farmers kill them to protect their cattle. Poachers kill them because they fear that the birds flying over them will give away their position, and also because the legs and head can be sold to practitioners of traditional medicine. Lead poisoning from eating used ammunition is another danger to the vulture population.

Beliefs, superstitions and phobias

In some cultures, human carcasses are deliberately left out in the open for vultures to eat. Corpses are sometimes ritually placed on raised stone platforms to "bury them in the sky." By eating the bodies, vultures are believed to free the souls of dead humans, thus allowing them to reach heaven.

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