What Does Seeing Vultures Mean?

Most people never happen to see a vulture in real life with very few exceptions. You either have recently been to the city zoo and saw a vulture in an artificial nature-like setting, or you happen to live in an area where vultures are native to a select or dry desert region. In most cases the response is usually the same and people often have a distaste for them for being a scavenger that is fighting over some rotten dead animal.

Well- what a lot of people don’t know is that the vulture is seen as many other things according to mythology, the bible, your own subconscious and an animal totem. Each meaning varies as much as you might imagine but the meaning is deeper in terms of interpretation. Let’s take a trip into the hidden world of what seeing a vulture in these cultures is really trying to tell you.

In the bible

One of the greatest collection of inspirational stories ever told, and to some; these stories actually happened! And according to the old scripture- the vulture is described as a disagreeable bird having a keen eye much like an eagle. Seemingly the bird would fly from the heavens (out of nowhere) to tear apart anything that had recently died.

The Israelites were all forbidden from eating this bird for the distasteful diet the vulture was known to consume. In other areas of the bible, the vulture is described as having plenty of partners in crime. In other words, where you saw one vulture there were going to be whole flock of them that would follow.

A symbol of God’s Judgment: We are further told that if we do not seek God’s faith, the wrath of sickness and ill health will follow the spiritually dying. Yet further along in Revelation- those against God in the end will be pursued by a great army of vultures that will circle down on them. Doom and gloom never fails to entertain and keep the masses in line -for sure…

In the spirit world

Now according to new age religion and crystal worship the vulture is seen as path to purification and harmony in your life. An animal icon that symbolizes the breaking free of the ego-based shackles that hold you back and make all of your wrongs become right. Also, it oddly helps you to seek the true meaning of death by coming to terms of understanding that death in only the beginning.

Despite the far-fetched symbolism, not all new age symbolism has fallen on deaf ears. There is some sense as to why they see the vulture in this way and everybody needs to overcome personal weaknesses and faults. The vulture itself embodies a person to master their energies and adapt to what you experience the most of what you have at your disposal.

In your dreams

When you close you eyes and slip into that soft and cozy dreamland, you might not expect that seeing a vulture is going to have symbolism behind it. In fact it does have a deep meaning to start cleaning up your act. Much like the scavenger that it is seen in real life, all your inner garbage is screaming at you to clear it all out and start a new path.

You might be going down a path to destruction and your conscience is trying to tell you to get rid of those bad habits before they consume you. This is one of those interpretations that makes the most rational sense since the vulture is essentially natures clean-up crew. Clearing the wasted garbage of life- swiftly and without ever having to be called in to duty.

In Greek mythology

Those ancient Greeks had a lot of good stories to tell and they also talk of seeing the vulture as a sacred bird to Hades and Herakles. However the Greeks thought that seeing vultures flying above armies of men and following them into battle would signal the eventual loss of life. As if the vultures instinctively knew they would find fresh corpses in the wake of war.

In Homers “Odyssey”, the vulture is envisioned as the punishment for the acts of war as this bird is as savage as the intentional killing of men. Even after death, the ravage torture continues through the violent battle for flesh as the vultures quickly drop down and begin to consume. If you want weird, the concept of Harpies came from the vile qualities of vultures that combines the head and breasts of Women!

In American Indian mythology

An age-old culture that was horribly put out of their misery in a Holocaust that lasted hundreds of years since the landing of colonists in early America. The Indians saw the vulture as The Golden Purifier and promised those that hardship was only temporary and was essential for those to reach higher goals in life. Once a vulture totem first enters your life, it remains by your side for a lifetime.

Shaman elders believe that vultures worked together to feed their flock. Even managing to let other roosts know that there was a meal close by, the vulture is a thoughtful bird that values their family members and looks after friends and neighboring vultures alike. It’s no wonder that a vulture totem has very Zen or Buddhist-like qualities as it does not kill in order to eat but feeds from things that have been killed by others or have died recently.

In closing

Whatever you might think of the vulture it often viewed as terrible but in all honesty, the vulture can best seen as an understood animal that is given a bad rap. Never is it credited for the thoughtfulness it has for cleaning up after something has died, or the ability that it helps notify other vulture roosts of waiting food. What we are left with is food for thought that ponders the hidden meanings of what the vulture represents rather than its’ amazing skills at survival.

If a picture can tell a thousand words, then the vulture would easily tell ten thousand more.

How Can Vultures Eat Rotting Flesh Without Getting Sick

It seems every other week there is another food product recalled due to concerns over human health. Chicken, Beef, Lettuce, and many other foods have been ripped from the food supply and take weeks to reappear. During this time, health units around the country begin to warn residents of this condition, or that condition, and many people seem to get sick.

It does seem unfair then that nature has a scavenger around that can seemingly eat whatever it wants, and never seems to get sick. A vulture’s diet consists of mainly rotting, leftover meat from the kills of other predators. Vultures don’t even have to do their own hunting; they rely on whatever is left over from victims of other animals.

Vultures can live quite a long time, up to twenty-five years, and were once a common sight throughout human populated areas. These birds often stay together in family groups, and you are likely familiar with the stereotypical vultures hovering over a soon to be deceased victim. They seem to eat everything and anything they come across, and never seem to get sick!

Are vultures immune to everything?

Vultures like any other animal are susceptible to infection from a variety of sources, so they are unfortunately not immune to everything. Vultures have an incredible well adapted body that helps to ensure that they don’t fall victim to the viral or bacterial agents that lurk within. As far as we know, the vulture’s body is adapted using both genetic changes, and changes in the types of bacteria that it hosts on its own body.

From time to time you may encounter a person who shaves their head and refuses to have facial hair due to their feeling that it is simply easier to be clean without it. It seems that vultures agree, and that due to selective evolutionary pressure, the feathers on the head and neck of the vulture seem to have been weeded out. A very plausible reason for the lack of feathers in this region is that if the feathers were present, there is a very real chance that they would harbour bacteria.

Another biological adaptation of the vulture is that of its stomach. The stomach of a vulture is extremely acidic, orders of magnitude more acidic than a human. It is thought that this increase in acidity helps to ensure that anything the vulture consumes that could hurt it is destroyed once it reaches the stomach.

Even if the vulture’s stomach is safe, why doesn’t their skin get infected?

As with humans, a vulture’s skin hosts a plethora of bacterial agents. When a human consumes yogurt, the majority of the bacteria consumed are considered to be “good” bacteria. Good bacteria for a vulture is of a different variety than ours.

In fact, the “good” bacteria for a vulture is often the very same bacteria that is found in rotting meat. As a result, their skin, and digestive tract is covered in these bacteria. In this way vultures have developed mechanisms to ensure that the bacteria they encounter in their normal diet does not pose them any harm.

A vulture’s skin is far more accommodating than the vultures stomach. On a vulture’s face, you can expect to find over five hundred different types of bacteria. In their stomach and by extension their digestive tract, there are far fewer microorganism varieties. Still, the ones that are surviving in the gut are often the very same bacteria that make humans so sick.

Another adaptation that vultures tend to exhibit is that they will defecate on their own legs. While researchers are not yet entirely certain as to why they do this, it has been proposed that vultures will defecate on their own legs as a sort of protective layer. This layer providing both antimicrobial and probiotic properties for their legs.

Does this mean that vultures do not get sick?

Of course, adaptation in nature often comes with trade-offs. Though a vulture is virtually immune to many of the effects of harmful bacteria that we experience, this does not mean that they cannot fall ill. Even biologically safe drugs for humans, such as ibuprofen can be used to poison a vulture.

Another possible route that a vulture may fall ill is when they consume the carcasses of livestock. When livestock is killed by predators, or left unattended, it is possible for a vulture to seize the opportunity for a feast. Livestock are often raised with antibiotics and other medications which are toxic to the animals that consume them.

How are vultures so different from human beings?

Many of a vulture’s adaptations are not all that unique as birds however, and some of these adaptations can be found throughout the subgroup of animals. This means that while the vultures are excellent at not getting sick from eating rotting meat, other birds, especially those closely related to the vulture may also get lucky and not get sick from eating the same food.

Wow! Vultures certainly are amazing!

Vultures are part of a group that form an important part of any ecosystem. Without the cleanup that vultures, and other scavengers do, the carcasses of animals would remain until they were worn down by the weather. Fortunately, with scavengers and microorganisms that help break down these carcasses, these vital resources are returned to the soil, or directly back into the food chain and help to keep the ecosystem healthy.

Vultures, however, suffer from a misconception that they spread disease. This misconception started some time in the early 1900s and continues to this day. Vultures however prevent the spread of disease by consuming these rotting carcasses and preventing them from stagnating in the wild and promoting the growth of sickness causing bacteria.

The disappearance of vultures, or any scavenger species would be disastrous for an ecosystem. Conservation efforts are underway to help them, but you can do your part to by helping to spread the good that vultures bring to an ecosystem and fight the misconception that they are unclean and bringers of disease.

Sources:

http://faculty.college-prep.org/~bernie/sciproject/project/Kingdoms/animals6/orders.htm#bird

https://www.wildlifecenter.org/vulture-facts

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/vulture-food-poisoning.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/11/25/366545524/how-can-vultures-eat-rotten-roadkill-and-survive

https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/why-vultures-dont-get-food-poisoning/

Are Vultures Dangerous? The Facts You Should Know

The answer to the questions at hand is NO, vultures are NOT dangerous. Vultures can benefit the environment more than we have ever realized.

We have misconceived vultures as mean and cruel birds of prey. This is how stories and myths portray them. And perhaps, much of this idea comes from the way these birds look. They look intimidating and are very unattractive and bald, and they feed on dead animals.

The truth is that vultures are harmless and they don’t attack humans at all.

Different Types of Vultures

In the world, there are two kinds of vultures, namely, the Old-World vultures and the New World vultures. You will find 23 species of vultures in all. You can find Old World vultures in Asia, Africa, and Europe and New World vultures are found in North and South America.

There are three kinds of New World vultures namely the turkey vultures or turkey buzzard, the American black vulture, and the California condor.

The most common of all vultures is the turkey vulture. This bird is a scavenger and it eats the decaying flesh of dead animals exclusively. They have keen senses, keen eyes and a good sense of smell. When decaying animals produce gases, the turkey vultures’ keen sense of smell can detect it to help it find its food source.

Turkey vultures don’t chirp like birds. They are mostly silent but when they eat, the make low hissing sounds or grunts. Each year, they raise 2 chicks which they feed by regurgitating the dead carcass and puking it in their young’s mouth.

Another type of new world vulture is the American black vulture. Although it is more restricted in places where you can find them, they are also very common and widespread. They live in open spaces in forests and shrublands. The black vulture is a large bird with black feathers. Its head and neck are featherless and It has a break that is short and hooked.

Like the turkey vulture, the black vulture also feeds on animal carcasses. But this type of vulture also eats animal eggs and they kill newborn animals. When they live in populated areas, they take to the garbage dumps to find their food. Their keen eye and a keen sense of smell help them find food sources.

Like the turkey vultures, they also raise 2 chicks each year which they feed by regurgitation. They are also silent birds that produce loss hisses and grunts when they eat.

Benefits of Vultures

Vultures help clean the environment by removing human and animal waste from the surroundings. And this is the main benefit of vultures to the environment and people.

Vultures like to live near towns since the presence of people means the presence of food for them. There is garbage, animals killed on roads, and farm animals. This gives the vulture a sufficient feeding opportunity. Without vultures, there will be many dead animals on the road. There will be an accumulation of animal waste which would make the environment suffer.

The proliferation of bacteria is prevented when vultures feed of dead bodies and garbage. With the absence of vultures, there could be an increase in animal disease which could also affect humans. With their extremely acidic stomachs, they become the best natural garbage collectors.

Ways of Vultures

Physically, vultures are not threatening and in fact, they don’t attack humans. Although carnivorous, what they eat are dead animals.

They have special stomach acids that break down what they eat. It is said that even a snake’s poison can be broken down by these acids. Since they have good smelling abilities, they can find their food. Turkey vultures help find the food while black vultures get ahead since they are more aggressive. And they can tear up the food so that it will be easier for others to eat.

Vultures are docile animals to be called the Peace eagle by Indians.

Although they are shy of humans, they like them and you will often find them building their nests around farms. Humans don’t get harmed by vultures. When you come close to them when they are eating a dead animal, they tend to get as far away from you as they can. They are never aggressive to humans but they fear humans.

You will be amazed that vultures are very sanitary birds even if they feed on dead animals’ bodies. The reason why they have featherless heads and necks is to help them stay clean when they put their head inside the dead animal’s body which contains unhealthy bacteria.

Vultures also pee on their feet. This is to make them comfortable and to kill the bacteria from the dead animals they eat. the evaporation of the urine makes the body of the vulture cooler. And since the urine is acidic, harmful bacteria from the carcass is also destroyed.

Despite feeding on rotting flesh, vultures can survive because of the acid in their stomach. Thus, they stay healthy. The powerful acid in their stomach can break down bacteria from the meat even before it can do its damage.

Vultures don’t harm pets or children. They don’t attack moving things, only animals that are dead and lying still.

Vultures have poor night vision so they don’t hunt for food at night. When they spot a large dead animal, they don’t immediately go and eat the flesh but they wait until there are enough birds to consume the dead animal before they will finally descend.

Protective Instinct of Vultures

When a vulture needs to defend itself, it spews out vomit. This is how far the hostile behavior of vultures go. While vomit is gross, it does not threaten your life.

The vulture will puke on you if you bother their nest and startle them. The acid on their stomach is their very effective defense mechanism.

So, don’t startle a vulture. If you don’t want to get vomit all over you. Vulture vomit is very unpleasant and foul-smelling. It can drive predators away. The high amount of acid in the vomit can even burn a predator’s skin.

It is a sad reality that vultures are seen in a bad light. People think they are harmful when in fact, they are not. Vultures are very unique and amazing birds. If you learn more about them, you can very well appreciate their place in the world. It is thus important for us to help in conserving them.

Interesting Facts About Vultures

I used to think I knew a great deal about vultures. That they circle weak animals, waiting for it to die so that they can feast on it. That they are bad hunters so only feed on carcasses instead of fresh meat. That they are ugly, sinister, vicious…

It was not until I went on a wildlife tour and got to see the vultures with my own eyes that I got interested in them. I started to ask questions to the locals about these mysterious birds. I also did a lot of research about them. It turns out, vultures are so much more than their stereotype.

I don’t want anyone making the same theories about these mysterious but majestic birds as I did. I want people to know the actual facts about vultures, which is why I am writing this. I want you to know more about their diets, habitats, and other facts that will leave you amazed at these vicious-looking birds.

Diet

Yes, vultures eat carcasses of dead animals, usually from another animal’s kill. But a vulture’s diet is so much more than that. I have discovered some amazing facts about their diets that will blow your mind as it has mine.

Why Are Vultures Bald?

There is a reason why vultures have no feathers in their heads and sometimes necks. And it has everything to do with their diets. Vultures eat decaying flesh. This diet consists of an overflow of germs, bacteria, and parasites that spread and cause diseases. You would think a diet like that would infect a vulture. But since their heads are bare, these bacteria and parasites can’t spread because there are no feathers to burrow into.

How Can Vultures Eat Rotting Flesh Without Getting Sick?

But what about when these bacterias and parasites enter the stomach? I can tell you that this can kill any other scavenger animal except vultures. The digestive juices of a vulture are so acidic, strong, and corrosive that it can digest anything. It can even dissolve lead. No kind of poisoning can affect a vulture.

Vultures also have a pouch in their gut that stores up at least 40% of toxic bacteria. It’s so amazing to think that these toxins stay there, not doing anything, not causing anything, not affecting anything. This would kill other animals for sure.

Why Don’t Vultures Eat Live Prey?

Vultures are not good hunters because of their chicken-like feet. If you have ever observed the talons of an eagle, you will see that it’s very sharp with a good grasp. Eagles use their strong grasp to hold down or carry the prey. Compare that with a chicken’s feet and you will see a huge difference. So you can see why there is no hunting for vultures.

They do have sharp beaks to tear through thick skin and even bones. But that won’t be any good if they can’t hold onto live prey with their feet. Vultures stick to what they are good at, hunting carcasses and tearing into its flesh and bones.

Habitat

If you think that vultures are only found in lonely deserts with a few patches of grass, dead trees, and nothing but bones and carcass surrounding them, then you are wrong. Surprise, surprise! Vultures can be found almost anywhere in the world, in any environment except in Australia and Antarctica. Their bodies can adapt to any habitat, making them one of the few animals that can live anywhere.

Vulture Species

To learn more about their habitats, know that there are New World Vultures and Old World Vultures. To make it easier to categorize, the New World Vultures locate in the Americas while the Old World Vultures locate in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Between the New World and Old World, there are about 30 sub-species that all live in different environments.

It is important to note that New World Vultures are not related to Old World Vultures. They fit in the “vultures” category because they have the same appearance and impact on the environment. But if you are considering DNA, then they are far from related.

Other Vulture Facts

I want to give you other random but important facts about vultures. These facts have made me appreciate vultures as they are and not the stereotypical birds that are blood-thirsty, ugly, and sinister.

Socializing

How many people know that vultures are social birds? We usually think of them as very lonesome and only meeting other vultures when they find a carcass to feed on. We are so used to the notion that birds of prey live alone that it is hard to believe that vultures feed, fly, and roost in large flocks.

Of course, when it comes to flocks of animals, they are called by a group name. For vultures, it is a little more complicated than that. Vultures have different names with the activities they are doing. Let me explain…

When vultures are not doing anything, you can call their group a committee, a venue, or a volt. If they are flying together, then they are referred to as kettle. Still another name comes when they feed on carcasses together, and they are then called a wake. So you see all these different names for different activities.

Defense Mechanism

Though vultures are birds of prey, they are still in danger of some predators. And I find their defense mechanism an unusual one. Vultures vomit to protect themselves from prey. This vomit is very foul-smelling that it will drive predators away. The vomit is also full of acids that could harm the predator enough to make it not want to pursue its chase. Finally, they vomit so that they become lighter and escape is easier.

Dangers

There are a lot of chilling stories and myths about vultures. Yet, vultures are actually harmless. We do not need to be afraid of them. In fact, we should be thanking them for removing carcasses that could spread diseases in the air.

Final Thoughts

I hope you learned something new about vultures. I hope that you appreciate them even though they are not birds that sing beautifully with pretty colors.