I have a passion for these birds…. Vultures…

A bird that spends its life searching for dead animals on which to feed, hardly seems likely to attract the fascination of anyone. However the vulture is, for me, an aerial acrobat, a pilot of note and a master of the skies. To watch these birds descending out of the skies to land at a dead animal, can be likened to watching the top pilots in the world perform, only the vulture is better.

I have sat at “Vulture Restaurants” where dead animals are placed for these birds to feed on… their descent is magnificent, their take off when full hardly a thing of beauty, but once airborne their ability to use updrafts to gain height a thing of awe and wonder. So little wing flapping, a little in the beginning to gain sufficient height and then it is onto a thermal….

Some of these birds are huge, like the Cape Vulture… with a wingspan of 2.26–2.6 m (7.4–8.5 ft.) and a body weight of 7–11 kg (15–24 lb.), it seems hardly able to fly, but once airborne a true master…

Here is a photo or two of a committee, volt, or venue which refers to vultures resting in trees…..



Now that’s a committee I’d hate to have to Chair… here a few photos of vultures flying in to take a bath after feeding… (the flying vultures as a group are called a kettle…)



Looking at the photo above one can see the feathers that aid in updraft detection, but to me the head down flight reminds me of the RAF’s Hercules aircraft, with their short landing and take off abilities… I wonder if the designer did not make a study of this bird……


and then after their bath they will sit and sun dry before returning to a roost to digest some of their meal…


Of course a group of feeding vulture are known as a wake….

A few interesting facts gained from a little research….

Vulture stomach acid is exceptionally corrosive, allowing them to safely digest putrid carcasses infected with Botulin toxin, hog cholera, and anthrax bacteria that would be lethal to other scavengers.

They also urinate straight down their legs; the uric acid kills bacteria accumulated from walking through carcasses, and also acts as evaporative cooling.

The two prominent bare skin patches at the base of the neck, found in the White-backed Vulture, are thought to be temperature sensors and used for detecting the presence of thermals.

The White-backed vulture is listed by the IUCN as "Vulnerable", the major problems it faces being poisoning, disturbance at breeding colonies and power line electrocution. The current population is estimated at 8,000. This vulture nests on cliffs and lays one egg per year, not the quickest way to get out of its “Vulnerable” status…