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Accipitridae
Accipitridae
(Aegypiinae) Cathartidae

Griffon vulture
Griffon vulture
soaring

African hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus), Kruger National Park

Head of a vulture, Mellat Park, Tehran

Some members of both the Old and New World vultures have an unfeathered neck and head, shown as radiating heat in this thermographic image.

A vulture is a scavenging bird of prey. The two types of vultures are the New World vultures, including the Californian and Andean condors, and the Old World vultures, including the birds that are seen scavenging on carcasses of dead animals on African plains. Some traditional Old World vultures (including the bearded vulture) are not closely related to the others, which is why the vultures are to be subdivided into three taxa rather than two. New World vultures are found in North and South America; Old World vultures are found in Europe, Africa, and Asia, meaning that between the two groups, vultures are found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. A particular characteristic of many vultures is a bald head, devoid of normal feathers. Although it has been historically believed to help keep the head clean when feeding, the bare skin may play an important role in thermoregulation.[1] Vultures have been observed to hunch their bodies and tuck in their heads in the cold, and open their wings and stretch their necks in the heat. Vultures also use urine as a way to keep themselves cool by urinating on themselves.[2] A group of vultures is called a kettle, committee or wake.[3] The term kettle refers to vultures in flight, while committee refers to vultures resting on the ground or in trees.[3] Wake is reserved for a group of vultures that are feeding.[3] The word Geier (taken from the German language) does not have a precise meaning in ornithology; it is occasionally used to refer to a vulture in English, as in some poetry.

Contents

1 Old World vultures 2 New World vultures 3 Feeding 4 Status 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

Old World vultures[edit] Main article: Old World vulture The Old World vultures found in Africa, Asia, and Europe
Europe
belong to the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards, and hawks. Old World vultures find carcasses exclusively by sight. The 16 species in 9 genera are:

Cinereous vulture, Aegypius monachus Griffon vulture, Gyps
Gyps
fulvus White-rumped vulture, Gyps
Gyps
bengalensis Rüppell's vulture, Gyps
Gyps
rueppelli Indian vulture, Gyps
Gyps
indicus Slender-billed vulture, Gyps
Gyps
tenuirostris Himalayan vulture, Gyps
Gyps
himalayensis White-backed vulture, Gyps
Gyps
africanus Cape vulture, Gyps
Gyps
coprotheres Hooded vulture, Necrosyrtes monachus Red-headed vulture, Sarcogyps calvus Lappet-faced vulture, Torgos tracheliotos White-headed vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis Bearded vulture
Bearded vulture
(Lammergeier), Gypaetus barbatus Egyptian vulture, Neophron percnopterus Palm-nut vulture, Gypohierax angolensis

New World vultures[edit] Main article: New World vulture The New World vultures and condors found in warm and temperate areas of the Americas
Americas
are not closely related to the similar Accipitridae, but belong in the family Cathartidae, which was once considered to be related to the storks. However, recent DNA evidence suggests that they should be included among the Accipitriformes, along with other birds of prey.[citation needed] However, they are still not closely related to the other vultures. Several species have a good sense of smell, unusual for raptors, and are able to smell dead animals from great heights, up to a mile away. The seven species are:

Black vulture
Black vulture
Coragyps atratus in South America and north to the US Turkey vulture
Turkey vulture
Cathartes
Cathartes
aura throughout the Americas
Americas
to southern Canada Lesser yellow-headed vulture
Lesser yellow-headed vulture
Cathartes
Cathartes
burrovianus in South America and north to Mexico Greater yellow-headed vulture
Greater yellow-headed vulture
Cathartes
Cathartes
melambrotus in the Amazon Basin of tropical South America California condor
California condor
Gymnogyps californianus in California, formerly widespread in the mountains of western North America Andean condor
Andean condor
Vultur gryphus in the Andes King vulture
King vulture
Sarcoramphus papa from southern Mexico to northern Argentina

Feeding[edit] Vultures rarely attack healthy animals, but may kill the wounded or sick. When a carcass has too thick a hide for its beak to open, it waits for a larger scavenger to eat first.[4] Vast numbers have been seen upon battlefields. They gorge themselves when prey is abundant, until their crops bulge, and sit, sleepy or half torpid, to digest their food. These birds do not carry food to their young in their talons but disgorge it from their crops. The mountain-dwelling bearded vulture is the only vertebrate to specialize in eating bones,[5] and does carry bones to the nest for the young, and it eats some live prey. Vultures are of great value as scavengers, especially in hot regions. Vulture
Vulture
stomach acid is exceptionally corrosive (pH=1.0[5]), allowing them to safely digest putrid carcasses infected with botulinum toxin, hog cholera bacteria, and anthrax bacteria that would be lethal to other scavengers[6] and remove these bacteria from the environment. New World vultures often vomit when threatened or approached. Contrary to some accounts, they do not "projectile vomit" on their attacker as a deliberate defense, but it does lighten their stomach load to make take-off easier, and the vomited meal residue may distract a predator, allowing the bird to escape.[7] New World vultures also urinate straight down their legs; the uric acid kills bacteria accumulated from walking through carcasses, and also acts as evaporative cooling.[8]

Gyps fulvus
Gyps fulvus
eating the carcass of a red deer in Spain

Vulture, getting ready to land

A wake (group of feeding vultures) of white-backed vultures eating the carcass of a wildebeest

Status[edit] See also: Indian vulture
Indian vulture
crisis Vultures in south Asia, mainly in India and Nepal, have declined dramatically since the early 1990s.[9] It has been found that this decline was caused by residues of the veterinary drug Diclofenac
Diclofenac
in animal carcasses.[10] The government of India has taken very late cognizance of this fact and has banned the drug for animals.[11] However, it may take decades for vultures to come back to their earlier population level, if they ever do: without vultures to pick corpses clean, rabies-carrying dogs have multiplied, feeding on the carrion, and age-old practices like the sky burials of the Parsees are coming to an end, permanently reducing the supply of corpses.[12] The same problem is also seen in Nepal
Nepal
where government has taken some late steps to conserve remaining vultures. Similarly, in Central Africa
Africa
there has also been efforts to conserve the remaining vultures and bring their population numbers back up. This is largely due to the bushmeat trade, "it is estimated > 1 billion kg of wild animal meat is traded" and vultures take up a large percentage of this bushmeat due to their demand in the fetish market.[13] The substantial drop in vulture populations in the continent of Africa
Africa
is also said to be the result of both intentional and unintentional poisoning, with one study finding it to be the cause of 61% of the vulture deaths recorded.[14] A recent study in 2016, reported that "of the 22 vulture species, nine are critically endangered, three are endangered, four are near threatened, and six are least concern".[15] See also[edit]

Jatayu Stele of the Vultures

References[edit]

^ Ward, J.; McCafferty, D.J.; Houston, D.C.; Ruxton, G.D. (April 2008). "Why do vultures have bald heads? The role of postural adjustment and bare skin areas in thermoregulation". Journal of Thermal Biology. 33 (3): 168–173. doi:10.1016/j.jtherbio.2008.01.002.  ^ Arad, Zeev; Bernstein, Marvin H. (2 March 1988). "Temperature Regulation in Turkey Vultures". The Condor. 90 (4): 913–919. doi:10.2307/1368848. JSTOR 1368848.  ^ a b c Galván, Javier (2014). They Do What? A Cultural Encyclopedia of Extraordinary and Exotic Customs from around the World. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 289. ISBN 1-61069-342-6.  ^ "Fast Vulture
Vulture
Facts". WebVulture.com. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2013.  ^ a b Buechley, Evan R.; Sekercioglu, Cagan H. "Vultures". Current Biology. 26 (13): R560–R561. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.01.052.  ^ Caryl, Jim (September 7, 2000). "Re: How come that vultures can resist dangerous toxins when feeding on carcass". MadSci Network. Retrieved February 15, 2013.  ^ "Turkey Vulture
Vulture
Facts". Turkey Vulture
Vulture
Society. Retrieved 2012-12-01.  ^ Conger, Cristen. "Why is it a bad idea to scare a vulture?". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 15, 2013.  ^ Prakash, V.; Pain, D.J.; Cunningham, Arthur A.; Donald, P.F.; Prakash, N.; Verma, A.; Gargi, R.; S. Sivakumar, S. and Rahmani, A.R.; ‘Catastrophic collapse of Indian white-backed Gyps
Gyps
bengalensis and long-billed Gyps
Gyps
indicus vulture populations’; Biological Conservation, 109 (2003), pp. 381-390 ^ Oaks, J. Lindsay; Gilbert, Martin; Virani, Munir Z.; Watson, Richard T.; Meteyer, Carol U.; Rideout, Bruce A.; Shivaprasad, H. L.; Ahmed, Shakeel; Chaudhry, Muhammad Jamshed Iqbal; Arshad, Muhammad; Mahmood, Shahid; Ali, Ahmad; Khan, Aleem Ahmed (February 12, 2004). "Diclofenac residues as the cause of vulture population decline in Pakistan". Nature. 427 (6975): 630–633. doi:10.1038/nature02317. PMID 14745453.  ^ Prakash, Vibhu; Bishwakarma, Mohan Chandra; Chaudhary, Anand; Cuthbert, Richard; Dave, Ruchi; Kulkarni, Mandar; Kumar, Sashi; Paudel, Khadananda; Ranade, Sachin; Shringarpure, Rohan; Green, Rhys E. (November 7, 2012). "The Population Decline of Gyps
Gyps
Vultures in India and Nepal
Nepal
Has Slowed since Veterinary Use of Diclofenac
Diclofenac
was Banned". PLOS One. 7 (11): e49118. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049118. Retrieved February 15, 2013.  ^ van Dooren, Thom (May 2011). "Vultures and their People in India: Equity and Entanglement in a Time of Extinctions". Australian Humanities Review (50).  ^ Buij, R.; Nikolaus, G.; Ogada, D.; Whytock, R.; Ingram, D.J. (August 2015). "Trade of threatened vultures and other raptors for fetish and bushmeat in West and Central Africa". Fauna & Flora International. EBSCOhost. 50 (4): 606–616. doi:10.1017/S0030605315000514.  ^ Ogada, Darcy; Shaw, Phil; Beyers, Rene L.; Buij, Ralph; Murn, Campbell; Thiollay, Jean Marc; Beale, Colin M.; Holdo, Ricardo M.; Pomeroy, Derek (2016-03-01). "Another Continental Vulture
Vulture
Crisis: Africa's Vultures Collapsing toward Extinction". Conservation Letters. 9 (2): 89–97. doi:10.1111/conl.12182. ISSN 1755-263X.  ^ Buechley, Evan R.; Şekercioğlu, Çağan H. (2016-06-01). "The avian scavenger crisis: Looming extinctions, trophic cascades, and loss of critical ecosystem functions]". Biological Conservation. 198: 220–228. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2016.04.001. 

Hilty, Steven L. (2003). Birds of Venezuela. London: Christopher Helm Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7136-6418-8. OCLC 51031554. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vultures.

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Vulture

Look up vulture in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Vulture
Vulture
videos on the Internet Bird
Bird
Collection Ventana Wildlife Society Vulture
Vulture
observatory in Spain A Vulture
Vulture
Restaurant Declining Vulture
Vulture
Count in India Vulture
Vulture
Conservation in Western Coast of India

v t e

Vultures

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves

Cathartidae
Cathartidae
(New World vultures)

Cathartes

Turkey vulture
Turkey vulture
( Cathartes
Cathartes
aura) Lesser yellow-headed vulture
Lesser yellow-headed vulture
( Cathartes
Cathartes
burrovianus) Greater yellow-headed vulture
Greater yellow-headed vulture
( Cathartes
Cathartes
melambrotus)

Coragyps

American black vulture (Coragyps atratus)

Sarcoramphus

King vulture
King vulture
(Sarcoramphus papa)

Gymnogyps

California condor
California condor
(Gymnogyps californianus)

Vultur

Andean condor
Andean condor
(Vultur gryphus)

Accipitridae: Gypaetinae (eagle-vultures)

Eutriorchis

Madagascan serpent eagle
Madagascan serpent eagle
(Eutriorchis astur)

Gypohierax

Palm-nut vulture
Palm-nut vulture
(Gypohierax angolensis)

Polyboroides

Madagascan harrier-hawk
Madagascan harrier-hawk
( Polyboroides
Polyboroides
radiatus) African harrier-hawk ( Polyboroides
Polyboroides
typus)

Neophron

Egyptian vulture
Egyptian vulture
(Neophron percnopterus)

Gypaetus

Bearded vulture
Bearded vulture
(Gypaetus barbatus)

Accipitridae: Gypinae (Old World vultures)

Sarcogyps

Red-headed vulture
Red-headed vulture
(Sarcogyps calvus)

Trigonoceps

White-headed vulture
White-headed vulture
(Trigonoceps occipitalis)

Aegypius

Cinereous vulture
Cinereous vulture
(Aegypius monachus)

Torgos

Lappet-faced vulture
Lappet-faced vulture
(Torgos tracheliotos)

Necrosyrtes

Hooded vulture
Hooded vulture
(Necrosyrtes monachus)

Gyps

White-rumped vulture
White-rumped vulture
( Gyps
Gyps
bengalensis) Himalayan vulture
Himalayan vulture
( Gyps
Gyps
himalayensis) White-backed vulture
White-backed vulture
( Gyps
Gyps
africanus) Rüppell's vulture
Rüppell's vulture
( Gyps
Gyps
rueppellii) Griffon vulture
Griffon vulture
( Gyps
Gyps
fulvus) Indian vulture
Indian vulture
( Gyps
Gyps
indicus) Slender-billed vulture
Slender-billed vulture
( Gyps
Gyps
tenuirostris) Cape vulture
Cape vulture
( Gyps
Gyps
coprothere)

Related topics

Diclofenac Ind

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