Parts of a Vulture

For those of you who are keen to learn about the different parts of a vulture, we have a series of labelled photos for you, to keep it interesting.  This is of course not every part of a vulture, but gives you a good idea of the different flight feathers etc.

Please feel free to email mandyschroder.uron@gmail.com should you have any queries, or comment on the post and we will get back to you as quickly as possible with answers.

Vulture Head Anatomy
Vulture Head Anatomy

 

Overview of Anatomy of a Vulture
Overview of Anatomy of a Vulture

 

Vulture Foot Anatomy
Vulture Foot Anatomy
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Vulture Species and ranges of the world

Vultures of the World
Vultures of the World
Vulture Species
Vulture Species

You know you’re a vulture when…

You know you're a vulture when...
You know you’re a vulture when…

Incredible Vulture facts

Cape Vulture catching the sun @ VulPro. Photo Mandy Schrode
Cape Vulture catching the sun @ VulPro. Photo Mandy Schroder

1. Bird’s Eye View
The highest bird flight ever recorded was a Ruppell’s Vulture, which crashed with an airplane at 37 000feet (11 278m) over the Ivory Coast in 1973, this is higher than Mount Everest. A lack of oxygen would kill most other birds.
Scientific studies showed that unique features in their haemoglobin and cardio vascular adaptions allow this.

Vultures have a healthy appetite and pick carcasses clean. @ VulPro. Photo Mandy Schroder
Vultures have a healthy appetite and pick carcasses clean. @ VulPro. Photo Mandy Schroder

2. Guzzle Guts
Mention Africa and everyone thinks of lion, elephant and rhino and always assumes that they would be our biggest eaters. Mammalian carnivores eat about 36% of the total number of animals killed; the rest approximately 70% is eaten by vultures. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/25961517]

3. Countries not communities
Vultures fly over massive distances; this territory is referred to as their range. Tagged vultures released in South Africa have been monitored as far afield as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Typical power line collision injury, often results in wing amputation. Photo Walter Neser
Typical power line collision injury, often results in wing amputation. Photo Walter Neser

4. Power line Hopscotch
Cape Vultures have been tracked following the power lines and pylons to cover the single straightest distance of 1000km. This is incredibly dangerous as vultures break wings on power lines and risk electrocution.

5. Old World and New World Vultures
Who knew? Old World vultures are found in Asia, Africa and Europe. New World vultures are found in the Americas. They are not really related, more grouped together for their scavenging habits.

Cool African Vulture Facts

Vulture hopping comically - Photo Mandy Schroder
Vulture hopping comically – Photo Mandy Schroder

1. Heavy  Weights    

Vultures soar beautifully on thermals, but actually don’t fly well at all.  They are just too heavy; nature being as wonderful as it is allows them to use thermals to soar over distances of up to 150km.

2. Eye Spy

Vultures rely on their sight for all sorts of details from finding food sources to recognising the fact that other vultures may have found a thermal.

3. Waste Disposal

Vultures are the only true scavengers in Africa; they NEVER hunt their own food.

Opened egg - VulPro. Photo Walter Neser
Opened egg – VulPro. Photo Walter Neser

4.Only Yolking

They only lay one egg every year.

5. Lunch Break

A vulture can eat up to one kg of meat in a sitting (that is 10% of their bodyweight)

6. Necessity is the mother of Invention

Eqyptian vultures eat ostrich eggs and actually use rocks or sticks to break their thick shells.

7. Fast Food or Sit Down

Vulture restaurants have been set up to create safe feeding sites to help save our vultures.  Tourists find them a fantastic opportunity to take photos and sit and enjoy these amazing funny birds.

8. The African White-backed Vulture

Is the most common scavenger of the Masai Mara.  They are very sociable and feed in very large groups numbering in the hundreds.

9. Ruppell’s vulture

They can be identified by their white streaked feathers and yellow beak.

Lappet-faced Vulture @ VulPro Vulture Restaurant. Photo Mandy Schroder
Lappet-faced Vulture @ VulPro Vulture Restaurant. Photo Mandy Schroder

10. Lappet-faced vultures

Are one of the biggest vultures, they get their name from their bald, red heads.  They travel in pairs and are dominant over all other vultures

 11. White headed-vulture

Is one of the rarest vultures of the Masai Mara. Smaller than the Lappet-faced these red beaked, pale faced birds are shy and solitary.

12. Hooded vultures

One of the smallest vultures and pick from the edge of the carcass.  Their diet is more varied than the other vultures, sometimes eating the dung of other animals or feeding at garbage sites.

13. Muti and Magic

The vulture is a powerful symbol of wisdom and far sight, no doubt linked to their extraordinary sight.  Sangomas have long revered them and owning a vulture head is said to bestow their strengths on the wearer.  Fortunately for vultures, people are better educated and realise the damage caused to wild vulture populations by killing them for muti.

10 Cool Facts about Vultures – General Part 2

Cape Vulture - Vulture Restaurant @ VulPro Photo Mandy Shroder
Cape Vulture – Vulture Restaurant @ VulPro Photo Mandy Shroder

1. Spaghetti legs
Unlike the Martial Eagle, vulture’s legs are not very strong, they also have blunter talons.

Cape Vulture - Beak close up. Photo Mandy Schroder
Cape Vulture – Beak close up. Photo Mandy Schroder

2. Batty Beaks
A vulture’s beak or bill is strong for tearing meat off a carcass. If a carcass is too stiff for them to open, then they cleverly wait for another predator to do all the hard work and then they enjoy eating too.

3. Livestock are safe
Vultures do not kill healthy livestock; they would only prey on sick or dying animals, especially if food has been scarce.

4. Food for thought
Vultures feed their babies by feeding well at a carcass and then regurgitating food from their crop for their babies when they are back at the nest.

Cape Vulture - Feet up close. Photo Mandy Schroder
Cape Vulture – Feet up close. Photo Mandy Schroder

5. Safety first
Turkey vultures urinate on their legs and feet to cool off on hot days. Their urine also helps to kill bacteria and parasites that they may have picked up when feeding.

6. Wide wings
The Andean condor has the largest wingspan of any vulture measuring 3 to 3.4 metres with wings extended.

7. Slightly smaller
The crow sized hooded vulture (Found in sub Saharan Africa), is the smallest vulture with a wingspan of only 1.5 metres.

8. Dead weight
When threatened, vultures vomit. This is a defence mechanism against predators, but also lightens their body weight for a quick getaway.

9. Chatterbox
Vultures don’t sing, they mostly grunt, hiss and scold each other.

10. Disease Doctor to Detective
Scientists are considering using vultures to help find bodies from crimes. Studying how a vulture finds a body and how quickly it can consume the body is useful for forensic analysis.