Vulture Facts
Size Up to 51 in (130 cm); up to 126 in (320 cm) (wingspan)*
Speed Up to 55 mph (88 km/h)**
Weight 15-33 lb (7-15 kg)
Lifespan 16-40 years
Food Carrion
Predators -
Habitat America, Africa, Europe, Asia
Order Accipitriformes
Family Old World vultures, New World vultures
Scientific name Accipitridae; Cathartidae
Characteristics Large bird of prey that mostly eats carrion

* Andean condor (a New World vulture), ** Californian condor; otherwise 31-37 mph (50-60 km/h)

Vultures are large birds of prey. There are almost 20 kinds of Old World vulture (aepgypiinae), including the cinereous vulture, the Rüppell's vulture and the griffon vulture. And there are 7 types of New World vulture (cathartidae, or condors), including the king vulture and the Andean condor. Three types of vulture make up their own sub-family (gypaetinae): the bearded vulture, Egyptian vulture and palm-nut vulture.

Griffon Vulture Facts

Size Up to 47 in (120 cm); up to 110 in (280 cm) (wingspan)
Weight 13-24 lb (6-11 kg)
Habitat Africa, Europe, Asia
Scientific name Gyps fulvus
Characteristics Largest vulture in Europe (body length)

Griffon Vulture Griffon Vulture - Photo: Carmine Arienzo/Shutterstock

Autor Theo You can’t miss them!

Griffon vultures are the largest vultures in Europe. They don’t have feathers on their necks.

Glasses? Not for the Griffon Vulture!

Griffon vultures can easily see a 12 in (30 cm) object on the ground from almost 2.5 miles (4 km) up.

Griffon Vultures don’t Like “Garbage”

Griffon vultures only eat muscle flesh and viscera from carrion. They leave practically everything else.

Cinereous Vulture Facts

Size Up to 43 inch (110 cm); wingspan up to 116 inch (295 cm)
Weight 15-26 lb (7-12 kg)
Habitat Europe, Asia
Scientific name Aegypius monachus
Characteristics One of the largest birds of prey in Europe

Cinereous Vulture Cinereous Vulture - Photo: Jesus Giraldo Gutierrez/Shutterstock

Cinereous Vultures are like Garbage Collectors

Cinereous vultures eat almost everything on a dead animal: tough skin, hard-to-digest sinew and even bone are no problem for the cinereous vulture.

I’m the Boss Here!

It’s not only vultures that gather around animal corpses to feast. But cinereous vultures are so big that they’re mostly the bosses at any “buffet”. Nobody usually wants to mess with such large opponents.

A Hunter of Necessity

If they can’t find enough carrion, powerful cinereous vultures will also hunt live tortoises, lizards and marmots.

Rüppell's Vulture Facts

Size Up to 40 in (103 cm); up to 102 in (260 cm) (wingspan)
Weight 13-20 lb (6-9 kg)
Habitat Europe, Africa
Scientific name Gyps rueppellii
Characteristics The highest flying bird in the world

Rüppell's Vulture Rüppell's Vulture - Photo: Ian Dyball/Shutterstock

High Flyers

Rüppell's vultures can fly very high. In November 1973, a Rüppell's vulture was spotted at a height of 37,000 ft (11,300 m) (because it was sadly sucked into a jet turbine).

Social Butterflies

Rüppell's vultures are social animals. When one discovers a corpse, it’s not uncommon for hundreds of animals to settle down to eat just a short time later. Just like its relative, the griffon vulture, the Rüppell's vulture only eats muscle flesh and viscera. It doesn’t bother with skin, sinew or bone.

These three vulture factsheets came from animalfunfacts fan Theo. Thanks for the great info! Do you want to write a fan factsheet?

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Bald Heads and Bald Necks

Vultures mostly have an unmistakable bald head and a bald neck with a ruff of feathers. This unusual look is especially handy for the birds because they get very close to their food (dead animals) with their heads and necks. Bacteria from the dead animal can’t breed as quickly on bare skin as in feathers.

Ew, they eat Dead Animals!

A special characteristic of vultures is their diet: they eat (mostly) carrion. This doesn’t make them particularly popular with most people at first glance. But without vultures, our ecosystem would be in danger. Because they eat dead, rotting corpses, they reduce the risk of dangerous diseases breaking out.

Bearded Vulture Bearded Vulture - Photo: Erni/Shutterstock

Vultures don’t have Many Enemies

This isn’t because they’re too big or because predators are too small or unskilled. Because of their diets, vultures have lots of bacteria on their feathers that would make most predators sick. It’s best to keep your paws (or in this case: teeth) off these germ factories!

Vultures are Very Inventive

Each type of vulture has come up with its own tricks to get at food. The Egyptian vulture, for example, cracks ostrich eggs by throwing stones at them. Bearded vultures grab bones, fly up into the air and drop them onto rocks so they break.

Strong Stuff

The bearded vulture has an acid in its stomach that’s more corrosive than battery acid. It needs it to digest hard bones.

It’s Enough to make You Blush!

When a vulture gets excited, its head turns red.

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