Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.
A Large Soaring Scavenger
In the bird world, certain birds seem to have reputations. A bald eagle might seem like a pretty cool dude, while we might imagine the fancy peacock walking down the fashion runway. But what about a vulture? This feathered friend is often depicted lurking in spooky trees, and certainly seems to have a bit of a dark reputation. Perhaps this is due to its less-than-beautiful looks. Or it could be the fact that the vulture seeks out the scent of rotting carcasses for its next meal. Are these birds really spooky? Take to the skies with us as we uncover facts about this large and not-so-scary bird.
What are Features of Vultures?
Vultures are very large birds. With a wingspan of around 6 feet, they are often mistaken for eagles! If you have never seen a vulture up close, you are missing out. Many vultures are considered funny-looking for one unique reason: they have bald heads! This makes their heads look very small in comparison with the rest of their large bodies.
Vultures can be found in many different colors. The red-headed turkey vulture, for example, has brown and black feathers. The bearded vulture is one that has a feathered head and is white and black. But the tropical king vulture is possibly the most unique. Boasting a variety of bright colors on its bald head and neck, its body is covered in white and black feathers. It is truly stunning as vultures go!
What Do Vultures Eat?
Vultures are raptors, like eagles and hawks. But they do not hunt and kill their food like these other birds. You may have seen movies in which people are crossing a large, hot desert and vultures are circling overhead. Why are the vultures watching so closely? They are hoping the people won't make it, so they will become the vulture's next meal! Yes, vultures are scavengers. This means they eat dead animals, also known as carrion.
The thought of vultures eating dead animals might really gross people out. However, scavengers like vultures are really important in our natural world. Why? Imagine what would happen if they weren't around to eat animal carcasses. These rotting bodies would lie around and pile up, causing terrible smells, not to mention spreading disease. We should be thanking vultures for doing such a great job of cleaning up!
Where Are Vultures Found?
Vultures are found everywhere in the world except Australia and Antarctica. They can sometimes be spotted lurking high in the trees. But you might be more likely to see one soaring high in the sky, circling around and around. How can you tell if a large bird in the sky is a vulture?
First, vultures don't need to flap as much as some large birds. They use their huge wings to catch rides on thermal air currents. Second, their wings form a ''V'' shape as they soar and appear to end in long fingers. And third, they teeter and seem unsteady as they glide through the air. And of course, if you happen to see a featherless head, it's likely a vulture!
Vultures are large birds that are scavengers, meaning they eat dead animals known as carrion. They have wingspans of up to 6 feet, and typically have bald heads. Vultures are found everywhere except Australia and Antarctica and are often seen riding thermal currents high in the sky.
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