Vultures are large scavenging birds that are broadly categorized into Old and New World Vultures. New World Vultures are found in North and South America and Old World Vultures are found in Europe, Asia and Africa. The two groups of vultures are not closely related and both belong to separate families of birds. However, they do have many of the same traits including a similar diet.
What do vultures eat?
Vultures are primarily scavenging birds, which means that they mostly feed on dead animal carcasses. New World Vultures are able to find a carcass with the help of their impressive sense of smell, but Old World Vultures use only their sight. They will rarely attack a healthy living animal, but may kill a sick or wounded animal if another food source cannot be found. If a carcass has a thick hide they will wait for another animal to eat it first and then move in to pick at the remains. Scavengers, such as vultures, play a very important part in the ecosystem as they help to remove decaying matter. Vultures have extremely strong and corrosive stomach acid, which allows them to eat rotting carcasses that are infected with dangerous bacteria. This means that vultures can safely eat a carcasses that most other animals cannot eat.
Did you know?
All of the species from the New World Vultures group can vomit their stomach acid as a defense when threatened. They also urinate down their legs which kills the bacteria that is picked up after standing on or near a carcass.