What Do You Call A Group Of Vultures? Bird Facts You Must Know! | Kidadl


What Do You Call A Group Of Vultures? Bird Facts You Must Know!

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Vultures are the most misunderstood animals in the world.

While their activities may seem destructive, vultures play an important role in keeping the environment clean. By clearing the carcasses, they actually prevent diseases like rabies and tuberculosis from spreading.

Vultures are primarily divided into two groups: the Old World vultures (found in Asia, Africa, and Europe) and the New World vultures (Native to South and North America). Though these birds share some common features, they are very different from each other. Vultures have been the subjects of many unrealistic speculations, such as their ability to foresee death. But in reality, their sense of smell, sight, and hearing are extremely strong, which help them to locate dead animals or carrion from miles away.

Today, there are 23 living species of vultures in the world. Among them, 16 belong to the category of Old World Vultures, and seven belong to the New World vultures. But most of these species have a rough time dealing with human activities. A 2016 study reveals that 'of the 22 vulture species, nine are critically endangered, three are endangered, four are near threatened, and six are least concern.'

Many terms are used to refer to a group of vultures, like committee, venue, bolt, wake, kettle, chicks, and fledglings. However, these terms have distinct connotations and are used in certain situations. We will learn about them later in the article.

What do you call a group of turkey vultures?

The turkey vultures are one of the most common species of vulture. Except for most parts of Canada, this vulture species can be found anywhere in North and South America.

The birds belonging to this vulture species look much like turkeys; that is why they are called turkey vultures. A turkey vulture has a length of 24-32 in (61-81.28 cm), a wingspan of 63-72 in (160-183 cm), and it can weigh up to 5.3 lb (2.4 kg). It can be recognized by the featherless red head and white beak. There is no separate term for indicating a group of turkey vultures alone, but they can be called a bolt or a venue of turkey vultures.

There are five subspecies of turkey vultures these are C. a. jota (The Chilean turkey vulture), C. a. ruficollis (The Tropical turkey vulture), C. a. meridionalis (The Western turkey vulture), C. a. septentrionalis (The Eastern turkey vulture), and C. a. aura (a nominate subspecies).

The birds are not known for making nests. After mating, the female turkey vulture lays one to three eggs directly on the ground in abandoned buildings, crevices, hollow logs, mammal burrows, under fallen trees, or in caves.

The turkey vultures are scavengers, so they mostly eat dead flesh and rarely prey on small animals. They often form groups consisting of a few to several thousand birds. They also eat invertebrates, insects, and some fruits.

It's a myth that the turkey vultures can smell death; no vultures can do that. They have a very good sense of smell and hearing and use these abilities to locate dead animals to eat. The birds of this vulture species have an extraordinary sense of smell. They can detect the scent of dead animals from over a mile away while in the air. Also, they do not eat extremely rotten flesh and can smell carrion that is 12-24 hours old.

These birds are known for throwing up when they feel threatened. This is a part of their defense mechanism and is used by baby vultures too. A turkey vulture can send its vomit to a distance of 10 ft (3 m) to distract potential predators.

The turkey vultures are often seen as a threat by farmers for allegedly carrying hog cholera. They are also accused of preying on newborn cattle, which is done by their cousin birds, the black vultures. But in the United States, killing or keeping the turkey vultures or any part of these birds, including their eggs, is illegal and is punishable by a fine of $200,000 for an organization and $100,000 for an individual.

By feeding on carcasses, a vulture cleans the environment and helps us lead a healthier life.

What is a group of vultures known as?

Depending on the situation, a group of vultures can be called many things from committee to kettle. Vultures are very popular birds and can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

While you can call a group of sitting vultures a committee or a venue, a group of vultures feeding on their prey is called a wake, and when the birds are in the air, they are called a kettle. A group of newborns is generally called chicks, and once their wings are strong enough to fly, they become fledglings.

16 Old World vulture species are found in Africa, Asia, and Europe. These are griffon vulture, cinereous vulture, Ruppell's vulture, white-rumped vulture, Indian vulture, Himalayan vulture, slender-billed vulture, white-backed vulture, hooded vulture, cape vulture, red-headed vulture, white-headed vulture, Egyptian vulture, lappet-faced vulture, bearded vulture, and palm-nut vulture.

A vulture generally has a bald head and bare neck. This prevents parasites and bacteria from burrowing into the thick feathers while these birds are feeding on an animal or carrion. Thus, the chances of getting an infection are low, and they can remain healthy after eating things that can make other animals extremely sick.

Even though vultures have strong beaks, their feet and talons are very weak. If these birds come across carcasses that are too stiff for them, they will wait for other carrion-eaters to come and rip the meat open for them. That's why vultures are often seen alongside eagles, hyenas, and coyotes. This is also why they do not carry meat for their chicks. They regurgitate food for the young ones.

Vultures do not prey on healthy livestock. Dead animals are their primary food, and they mostly eat bones. It is said that 70-90% of their diet comprises bones from carcasses. But ranchers and farmers, who believe these birds to be a real threat to their animals, persecute vultures regularly. It is also not true that vultures know beforehand if an animal is dying. They have excellent senses and outstanding flying ability, which they use to find out their food.

Like some other animals, vultures also use the Urohydrosis process. It means urinating on oneself to keep the body temperature low. This process also helps vultures disinfect their legs after feeding on rotten carcasses since their urine has high levels of acid. The same thing goes for their stomachs, which possess extremely strong acids that help digest animal bones and save them from lethal bacteria.

Not being sexually dimorphic, male and female birds of this species do not show notable differences even if they belong to opposite genders. Thus you need to run a DNA test on them to determine their gender, which also works only 80% of the time.

Often it is claimed that vultures and buzzards are the same, but they are not. Unlike vultures, buzzards have strong feet and talons that help them kill their prey. Also, buzzards don't have bald heads, and because they are smaller and lighter, they can move faster than vultures.

What is a group of black vultures called?

A black vulture is one of the most popular species in the family of New World vultures. But there is no specific word, except for those applicable to all vultures, that denotes a group of black vultures.

A black vulture's sense of smell is not as great as a turkey vulture, so it flies high in the sky and keeps an eye on the latter. Whenever a turkey vulture detects the smell of carcasses and moves towards the ground, the black vulture follows it to the food source.

The black vultures are a bit smaller than the turkey vultures, but they are more social. So, even if a turkey vulture can gain the upper hand when it comes to one-on-one at carcasses, a venue of black vultures can easily defeat the solitary opponent. Interestingly, a fossil (34 million years old) of this species of New World vultures was found in Europe when the black vultures and their relatives lived only in the American continents.

The black vultures can live a long life. The oldest one on record had a lifespan of 26 and a half years. It is said that in captivity, they can live even longer. Like most of the species of New World vultures, the black vultures lack a vocal box. So, they can make sounds like grunts and hisses.

Written By
Prasenjit Das

<p>Having obtained a Bachelor's degree in English language and literature from West Bengal State University - Barrackpore Rastraguru Surendranath College, followed by a Master's degree in English language and literature from Calcutta University, Prasenjit has several years of experience as a content writer, Prasenjit has mastered the art of producing cohesive and coherent copy. To further refine his skills and continuously challenge his creativity, Prasenjit successfully completed the "Introduction to Creative Writing Course" offered by British Council. Outside of his professional pursuits, Prasenjit finds inspiration in engaging in various creative activities, including writing poetry.</p>

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