Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
The name of the animal in science
The animal group that the species belongs to
What kind of foods the animal eats
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
|64cm - 81cm (25in - 32in)|
The measurement from one wing tip to the other
|130cm - 183cm (51in - 72in)|
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
|0.85kg - 2.2kg (1.9lbs - 5lbs)|
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
How long the animal lives for
|20 - 30 years|
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
|Black, White, Grey, Tan, Brown|
The protective layer of the animal
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
|Deserts, savannah and grassland near water|
|Average Clutch Size:|
The average number of eggs laid at once
The food that the animal gains energy from
|Rats, Small and large animal carcasses|
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
|Hawks, Snakes, Wild cats|
Characteristics unique to this animal
|Large wings and sharp, curved beak|
The vulture is a large, carnivorous bird that is most well known for its scavenging nature. The vulture is one of the few types of bird that is found distributed so widely around the world, as vultures are found on every continent excluding the Antarctic and Australia and the islands that surround it.
Different species of vultures of firstly classified into two groups, the old world vultures and the new world vultures. There are thought to be nearly 30 different species of vulture that are found worldwide.
The old world vultures are found in Asia, Europe and Africa with these species of vulture thought to be most closely related to eagles and hawks. The old world vulture is not thought to be closely related to the new world vulture and the old world vulture uses its spectacular sight alone in order to find food.
The new world vultures are found in the Americas and although there are definitive similarities between the old world vulture and the new world vulture, they are believed to be connected through evolutionary status rather than DNA. The new world vultures tend to be slightly smaller than the old world vultures and use both sight and their excellent sense of smell in order to find their food.
All species of vulture are similar in the sense that they scavenge for their food whenever possible rather than killing it themselves. Vultures feed on the remains of dead animals and are never too fussy about what is left. Vultures are known to strip meat, skin and even feathers, leaving only the skeleton of the animal remaining.
Although vultures are generally fairly solitary animals, groups of vultures are often seen circling prey from the sky above. This movement of the vultures is called a kettle and a group of vultures together is sometimes known as a venue.
Vultures have keen eyesight. It is believed they are able to spot a three-foot carcass from four miles away on the open plains. In some species, when an individual sees a carcass it begins to circle above it. This draws the attention of other vultures that then join in. The faeces of the turkey vulture contains strong acids that kill many of the bacteria commonly associated with bird faeces. Because of their diet, these birds are able to kill harmful bacteria and viruses with their stomach acids, and halt the potential spread of disease from rotting carcasses.
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First Published: 11th March 2009, Last Updated: 8th November 2019
1. Christopher Perrins, Oxford University Press (2009) The Encyclopedia Of Birds [Accessed at: 11 Mar 2009]
2. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 11 Mar 2009]
3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
4. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 11 Mar 2009]
5. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 11 Mar 2009]
6. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 11 Mar 2009]