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.