Vultures are a term used for two distinct groups of birds of prey whose taxonomy is under discussion. A common feature among vultures is that various species largely feed as scavengers. Most vultures are found in deserts and savannas. Below, you will find ten interesting facts and curiosities about a bird that you probably wouldn’t want to be devoured by if you end up lifeless in their territory!

Why Almost All Vultures Have Died Out in India…

Almost all vultures in India have died due to consuming carcasses of animals recently treated with the drug diclofenac. As a result, there’s now a significant rabies problem in the country, with an annual cost of over 26 billion US dollars. [source]

The Highest Flying Bird…

The highest flying bird is the Rüppell’s griffon vulture, which has been observed at altitudes over 11,000 meters (6,83 miles) from airplanes. However, reaching heights over 7,000 meters (4,34 miles) is quite rare. You can find a picture of a Rüppell’s griffon vulture below. [source]

Even Anthrax Can’t Kill the Bird…

Vultures have stomach acid so corrosive that they can even digest anthrax, which has a mortality rate of about 97% in all mammals, including humans. [source]

Vultures Used to Detect Gas Leaks…

Turkey vultures are used by natural gas companies to detect pipeline leaks. Natural gas is odorless, so gas companies add the chemical ethyl mercaptan to make people detect the smell of gas leaks. Ethyl mercaptan is released from decaying animal bodies. So, leaks in gas pipelines attract vultures. You can find a picture of a turkey vulture below. [source]

Different Types of Vultures Prefer Different Types of Food…

The diet of the bearded vulture consists of about 90% bones, allowing it to return to a carcass long after other scavengers have removed any soft tissues. Bones too large to swallow are dropped from great heights by the bearded vulture to break them into smaller pieces. [source]

And They Have a Value in a Way…

A single live vulture is valued at about 11000 U.S Dollars based on the ecosystem services they provide by clearing the environment of carcasses that could otherwise spread diseases and cause economic consequences. [source]

Much Controversy Behind Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photo…

The reason photographer Kevin Carter waited for 20 minutes before taking his controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the starving Sudanese child was that he was waiting for the vulture to spread its wings. However, the vulture never did, so he eventually took the photo anyway. Presumably, Carter felt guilty afterward, as he committed suicide three months later. You can see a picture of the award-winning photo below. [source]

Feeding Their Dead Family Members to Vultures…

Parsi/Parsee followers feed their deceased family members and relatives to vultures at a place called the Tower of Silence, and the family must remain in the tower for four days. No one else is allowed in, and the rituals are quite secretive. [source]

Explosive Vulture Population After the American Civil War…

The vulture population in Gettysburg, USA, significantly increased after the Civil War, and the vultures still present there are descendants of those that fed on the dead soldiers. [source]

Birds Used for Many Benefits…

Vultures equipped with GoPro cameras and GPS trackers are actively used to locate illegal garbage dumps in Peru, which is a major issue in the country. [source]

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