Vulture Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

Vultures are large scavenging birds that are sometimes thought of as spooky or creepy. But should we be afraid of them? Take a closer look at these interesting feathered friends in this lesson.

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.

Vultures gathered in a tree

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!

Unique and colorful head of the king vulture
king vulture

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.

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