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Description of Vulture

Vultures comprise two groups of carrioneating birds. They are useful because they eat carrion, which otherwise might decay and endanger the health of other animals. The twenty-one vulture species inhabit temperate to tropical regions of the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. All vultures exhibit similar eating habits, behavior, and appearance, including bare heads and necks. Many also have somber-colored feathers. Vultures of Europe, Asia, and Africa (Old World vultures) arise from eaglelike birds. Vultures of the Americas (NewWorld vultures), similar in appearance to OldWorld vultures, are anatomically related more closely to storks...Some Characteristics of Vultures..Vultures have bare heads and necks and hooked bills. Carrion is their main food, and on some occasions they attack newborn or wounded animals. Most hunt by long-distance soaring to scavenge with their keen sight. New World vultures differ from OldWorld vultures in their lack of the ability to vocalize. Six species compose New World vultures. Three live in North America: turkey vultures of the southern United States and northern Mexico; black vultures of the southwestern United States and Central America; endangered California condors; king vultures; Andean condors; and yellow-headed turkey vultures of South America. There are fourteen Old World vulture species. Among the most interesting are the cinereous (with a color resembling ashes) vultures of southern Europe, northwest Africa, and Asia; the similar griffon vultures; white (Egyptian) vultures found from the Mediterranean to India; and the bearded vultures (lammergeiers) of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Vultures lack feathers on their heads and necks, which keeps them free of gore fromcarrion. Among New World vultures, several have interesting appearances. Black vultures have black heads and plumage, with white feathers under the wings. King vultures, in contrast, have feathered neck ruffs and yellow, red, white, and blue heads. California condors, the largest North American land birds, average four feet in length, with wingspans up to eleven feet. They have black neck ruffs, bald, orange to yellow heads, and black plumage except for white feathers under wings. Andean condors are similar. South American yellow-headed turkey vultures resemble North American turkey buzzards. Notable among Old World vultures are cinereous vultures, about four feet long with bare, pinkish heads and black feathers. They inhabit Europe, northwest Africa, and Central Asia. Griffon vultures are similar in size and appearance. Egyptian vultures, two feet long, have yellow heads and white feathers except for black wings. They inhabit Mediterranean areas and are found as far east as India. Bearded vultures (lammergeiers) are especially interesting. They live on Asian, African, and European mountains. They have tan plumage on the chest and stomach and dark brown wing and tail plumage. Lammergeiers have red eyes in white heads. Conspicuous black feathers surrounding the eyes end in beardlike tufts and led to the name “bearded.” These vultures average four feet long and weigh up to twenty-four pounds. Their huge wings allow soaring for hours on thermal updrafts. Lammergeiers are unusual in building large, conical nests on or in rock ledges or caves. A mated, monogamous pair uses the nests many times..

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Photo Gallery of Vulture