Logo of nature.ca - Canadian Museum of Nature.
Logo of Natural History Notebooks.
Button: Home. Button: Resources. Button: Notebooks A-Z.
Button: Français.
Home > Birds > Vultures Next
Text: Birds.
Photo: A Vulture, Accipitridae (family/famille).
A vulture, Accipitridae (family/famille)
More Images »

Where are they found? AfricaAsiaEurope

Map of the world.

Vulture is a name given to a group of 16 species that are found in the Old World (Europe, Asia, Africa). The name is also given, in English, to a group of 5 species that are found in the New World (North America, South America), although the two groups are not closely related.

Old World Vultures prefers open spaces, foraging over grassland, thornbush, desert and other sparsely vegetated regions. They avoid large forested areas.

These vultures feed on carrion (animals that are already dead). The Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) also eats the outer husks (the pericarp) of palm nuts, as well as small animals and fish.

The largest species of vulture, the Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus), typically has a wingspan of up to 2.8 m (9 ft.) and weighs up to 8.5 kg (19 lb.). Vultures' large, powerful wings allow them to soar for hours at a time on warm, rising air currents.

Vultures have keen vision. They can see the carcasses of dead animals and the movements and activities of other scavengers (whether bird or mammal) from great distances.

Despite their powerful bill, most species of vultures have difficulty in penetrating the hides of larger mammals, and often have to wait for some decomposition to take place or for the activities of other scavengers, such as the hyena, to open the carcass.

Their head and long neck are usually without feathers. This is an advantage because they are able to stay cleaner when they delve deep inside the dead animals on which they feed. Unlike birds of prey, the talons of Old World vultures are relatively weak and unsuitable as weapons of attack.

Old World Vultures

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

More Images
Photo: Vultures, Accipitridae (family/famille). Photo: Vultures, Accipitridae (family/famille). Photo: Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus. Photo: White-backed Vulture, Gyps africanus. Photo: White-backed Vulture, Gyps africanus. Photo: Palm-nut Vulture, Gypohierax angolensis. Photo: Rüppell's Vulture, Gyps rueppellii. Photo: Lappet-faced Vulture and Rüppell's Vulture, Torgos tracheliotos & Gyps rueppellii.

Looking for photos?

The Canadian Museum of Nature has thousands of unique images reflecting the diversity of the natural world—including the photos and illustrations here in our Natural History NotebooksContact us to learn more!

To cite this page for personal use:
“Vultures”. [Online]. Natural History Notebooks. Canadian Museum of Nature.
Last updated (Web site consulted

Button: Mammals. Photo: Lion (Panthera leo). Button: Birds. Photo: Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
Button: Fish. Photo: Brown trout (Salmo trutta). Button: Reptiles. Photo: Komodo dragon (Varanus komodensis).
Button: Amphibians. Photo: Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana). Button: Invertebrates. Photo: House fly (Musca domestica).
Button: Dinosaurs. Illustration: Tyrannosaurus rex. Archive slide: S71-116. Button: Prehistoric. Illustration: Muskox (Ovibos moschatus).
Button: Navigate the World. Illustration: Map of the world.

Reproduction Rights    Credits    Explore Nature!    Comments or Questions?

Next Previous Next Previous