Vultures Serve a Very Useful Purpose

Many people consider the vulture and ugly and dirty bird. They may be ugly but they are not dirty. Most of them keep themselves clean and they keep our world clean.

Black Vulture

Black Vulture By D Gordon E Roberson CC BY-SA 3.0
Black Vulture By D Gordon E Roberson CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

The black vulture's scientific name is Coragyps atratus.

They are found living in North America. They like residential living. They are found on roofs and trees. They also like wooded areas.

The black vulture is 22 to 26 inches long, and they have a 4 foot wingspan. They have a black and naked head. Their feet are brown. The are a New World vulture.

Their diet consists of carrion, garbage, eggs, chicks from other species and small reptiles. On rare occasions, they will attack baby pigs and lambs.


Black Vulture By Lymacpphae CC BY-SA 2.0
Black Vulture By Lymacpphae CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

They are very social and will form groups containing hundreds of birds. They form groups for hunting and sleeping.

They find food by seeing it. They will also find food in cities on the streets.

The female will lay 2 eggs in a tree hollow or at the foot of a tree. The male and female will both incubate the eggs for 32 to 40 days until they hatch. The babies are extremely noisy and aggressive.

The black vulture is not threatened.


Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture By Yathis sE CC BY-SA 3.0
Lappet-faced Vulture By Yathis sE CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

The lappet- faced vulture's scientific name is Targos tracheliotus. You will find the lappet faced vulture in parts of the Sahara, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and the Namib Desert. They like to live in semiarid and desert scrub areas. They will also be found in open grasslands and plains.


Lappet-faced vulture By Steve GarvleB CC BY-SA 3.0
Lappet-faced vulture By Steve GarvleB CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

The lappet-faced vulture is 40 to 45 inches long, and they weigh 15 pounds. They have an 8.5 to 9 foot wingspan. The lappet-faced vulture has a head and neck that are bare and pink. The side of their face has lappets on it that are fleshy. They are one of the largest vultures.



Scaveaging elephant carcass By Follow C Gallagher CC BY-SA 3.0
Scaveaging elephant carcass By Follow C Gallagher CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Their main diet is carrion and they are known to catch, and kill live animals.. They will sometimes raid colonies of flamingos.

The lappet-faced vulture is considered vulnerable. This is because they are poisoned and killed by humans. Jackals will steal their food. Their young are preyed on by meat eating animals.

When it is not breeding season, they like to be alone. They will bathe as often as they can. They are usually very quiet. They like to move around during the day.




Ruppet's Vulture

Ruppet's Vulture By GPS SS BY-SA 2.5
Ruppet's Vulture By GPS SS BY-SA 2.5 | Source

The Ruppell's vulture's scientific name is Gypa rueppellii. They are found in Central Africa, Serengeti plains, Tanzania and Kenya. They like to make their home in open savannas and semi-desert areas. They will nest in cliffs.


Ruppett's Vulture San Diego Zoo By Vlad Buchy CC BY-SA 2.0
Ruppett's Vulture San Diego Zoo By Vlad Buchy CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

The Ruppell's vulture will weigh 15 to 18 pounds and their wingspan is 26 inches. The Ruppell's vulture has fabulous eyesight that they use to find food. Their talons are weak and their beak is strong and sharp. They use their large wings for gliding.

Wildebeest carcass in river By Lip Kee Yop CC BY-SA 2.0
Wildebeest carcass in river By Lip Kee Yop CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

They eat carcasses of animals that are dead. They do not eat live prey.

They are losing part of their habitat but they are still very common.

They are extremely social and will live in groups that will often have over a hundred birds in them.


Ruppett's vulture By Jorge Lasear CC BY-SA 2.0
Ruppett's vulture By Jorge Lasear CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

The Ruppell's vulture will go very long distances in search of food. When they find an animal carcass they will circle to let their friends know food has been found.

Storks and shore birds will prey on their eggs.

They will move around during the day and at night.

Palm-nut Vulture

Palm-nut Vulture By Schrintia CC BY-SA 2.0
Palm-nut Vulture By Schrintia CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

The palm-nut vulture's scientific name is Gypohierax angolensis.

You will find them living in parts of Africa. They like to live in forest edges along rivers, lakes and coasts where old palms are growing.

They eat fruit, grain fish, carrion and crabs. Their favorite food is the fleshy part of palm fruit.

They are the smallest old world vulture. The palm-nut vulture is 2 feet long with a 5 foot wingspan. They weigh 3 to 3.5 pounds. They are predominantly white and their back, tips of their wings and base of their tail are black. The bare skin on their face is red.


Palm-nut Vulture By Hans Hillewaert CC BY-SA 2.0
Palm-nut Vulture By Hans Hillewaert CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

The female will lay her eggs, and they will hatch in 44 days and the babies will fledge in 90 days.

They are not considered threatened.



White-headed Vulture

White-headed Vulture By stephen jones from uk - flickrUploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10990263
White-headed Vulture By stephen jones from uk - flickrUploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10990263 | Source

The white-headed vulture's scientific name is Trigonocepa occipitalis. The white-headed is found in Africa. They do not like living in forests or near humans. They like to live in savannas with trees. They will go to grasslands, thorn-bush, sub-desert and areas with little vegetation. They like to live in the lowlands, but they have been found up to 4,200 foot elevation.


White-headed Vulture By Michael Galler
White-headed Vulture By Michael Galler | Source

The white-headed vulture is a scavenger that eats mainly skin, pieces of bone and carrion scraps. They will steal food from other birds. They also eat locusts, termites, bird eggs and fish.

They will build their nest at the top of a tall tree like an acacia or giant baobab. The nest is a deep platform made using sticks, and they line it with grass. The female will lay 1 egg in the nest. The egg will hatch in 51 to 56 days. The male and female will feed the baby. The baby will fledge in 110 to 120 days. They will go through their first molt at 12 months and will have their adult feathers by the time they are 6 or 7 years old. Some references say they will live to be 15 years old. There are others that say they will live 4 to 5 years.


White-headed Vulture Flying By hyper7prs CC BY-SA 2.0
White-headed Vulture Flying By hyper7prs CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

They will start to hunt early in the morning. They will soar to 200 to 2,000 meters looking for food. They will sit on a perch, then find pieces of meat, bones and skin and take it away to eat alone.

They are threatened. Farmers hunt them because they feel they kill their cattle. They are also poisoned. Their habitat is also being lost to agriculture. Many of them are not breeding. They are also used in traditional medicine.


Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture By Don DeBold CC BY-SA 2.0
Turkey Vulture By Don DeBold CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

The turkey vulture's scientific name is Cathartes aura. They are found in areas in North America, especially the deserts of Southwestern United States. They like dry open country and ranch lands. They also hang out along where they can find road kill.


Spread Winged Adult By Mcvoorthis CC BY-SA 3.0
Spread Winged Adult By Mcvoorthis CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

The turkey vulture is 32 inches long and has a 6 foot wingspan. They will weigh 3 pounds. Their body is brown/black in color. Their head is bare and red and their beak is white. They have feet that are yellow. Their flight feathers are silver/gray. They have a great sense of smell.

In Flight over Florida by acera-Flonda CC BY-SA 2.0
In Flight over Florida by acera-Flonda CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

The turkey vulture is extremely family oriented. When several turkey vultures form a group it is known as a roost. There are turkey vulture roosts that have been together for over a hundred years living in the same place. They will separate and hunt for food alone.

The turkey vulture does not build a nest, but instead lay their eggs in a cliff hollow, logs or on the rocks that are on the ground. The male and the female will incubate the eggs and care for the babies.

The turkey vulture is basically a quiet bird.


Turkey Vulture By Kevin Cote CC BY-SA 2.0
Turkey Vulture By Kevin Cote CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

The turkey vulture does not require much water as they will get most of what they need from their food. They have a great immune system that protects them.

The turkey vulture is very common and not threatened.





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Comments 7 comments

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

What other animals feast on carrion like they do? Yucky as they might be, they do serve their purpose. We have vultures near my house near a busy highway. We can always tell when there is roadkill because they circle, like you said. When driving, it's like they don't want to get out of your way.


norlawrence profile image

norlawrence 3 months ago from California Author

Thanks for view and comment. I used to live in the foothills in cattle country and would see a lot of them.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 months ago from Victoria, Australia

If the white-headed vulture doesn't get its adult feathers until 6 or 7 years old, they must live for quite a long time. Do you know the average life-span of these birds? It's sad that some of them are becoming endangered because their environment has changed, especially when they are useful birds.


norlawrence profile image

norlawrence 3 months ago from California Author

Thanks for reading my article and bring up that question. The research I used did not say how long they lived. The researched further and found one place where it said they lived 15 years. In yahoo answers someone said 4 to 5 years. I think I would go with the 15 because vultures usually live a long time. They are critically endangered in some of the areas where they live. Thanks again.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Thank you. It wouldn't make sense for them to live 4 to 5 years, when it takes longer than that for them to get their adult feathers.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 months ago from Houston, Texas

There are many black and turkey vultures in our area and they really do like to congregate in groups. The young turkey vultures also have black heads from what I have learned and later on develop the red head coloration. Vultures do a fantastic job of cleaning carrion from roads and fields. Happy to share this hub, pin it, etc.


norlawrence profile image

norlawrence 3 months ago from California Author

Thanks. When I lived in the foothills there were a lot of them. It was cattle country. Vultures and coyotes were very plentiful.

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