Seven things you didn’t know about vultures

Originally published at:


“The Nastiest Hell-Soup” is going to be the name of my Stryper cover band.


5.) Vultures pee on their feet to keep cool. But really, who doesn’t?

Wow, I learned something today. Plus, would be a great line in a song.


that’s a fine kettle of vultures


8.) They just fucking go for it instead of circling like a bunch of turkeys…

RE #5…I thought they peed on their feet to avoid athletes foot…wait, maybe that’s people staying in hostels…

  1. Vulture barf will cover up the smell of pee foot

I forget which one but in one of his essays Stephen Gould mentions that even though vultures in North America and Africa look similar they actually evolved independently of each other–which says a lot about how important they are to the ecosystem.

Black vultures also bark like dogs. Don’t ask me why but I find this hilarious. Once walking through my neighborhood I heard “Woof!” I turned expecting to see a dog and instead there were approximately twenty vultures in a neighbor’s yard. I had to sit down and laugh.


The most interesting fact (to me anyway) is that vultures are a great example of convergent evolution. Though they look very similar and fill the same niche, old world and new world vultures are only distantly related. Old world vultures are more closely related to hawks and eagles (and similarly depend on keen eyesight) and new world, well I don’t know what they’re related to but they depend more on smell.


More info: Vultures conserve energy by riding warm air currents, flying in a circling pattern as the day heats up (their long wings are perfect for doing this), and rising on the rising warm air. When a bunch of vultures does this, it’s called a kettle, or kettling. Uniquely among vultures, American turkey vultures can smell decaying flesh from high aloft, keying in on the chemical ethyl mercaptan. This is the same chemical that’s added to natural gas to give it a smell for detection purposes, and explains why gas workers would find these vultures showing up where there was a natural gas leak.


Vultures are the clowns of the scavenger world.


Vultures always split 3s if the dealer is showing a 4, 5 or 6.


I had to go look this up to hear it myself.

From the lovely Cornell Ornithology website:


Old world vultures are related to raptors, while new world vultures are related to storks. Both sport a “black vulture”: ours, I’m afraid, while handsome, is much, much smaller.

Interestingly, there seems to be some convergent evolution even in old world vultures.

Aegypiinae and Gypaetinae



I’ve read the same about marabou storks.


A bird expert told me that vultures were rare in British Columbia before the extension of highways to the interior in recent decades.


I didn’t think it was possible to make Spiderman comics better, but weaponized vomit sure would have made those Amazing Spiderman comics a lot cooler, particularly to juvenile male brains.

(Actually I believe one of the later incarnations of The Vulture could spit acid, so maybe someone at Marvel knew about vultures after all.)


I like this… We see turkey vultures quite a bit around where we live, so I’ll have to employ that next time I see them working on a dead deer on the side of the road.

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I used to take care of a couple of vultures at a raptor center (imprinted on humans unfortunately), and the issue gets even more complicated…

When it gets hot, sometimes they barf on their feet to stay cool as well.


Confirmed: Puke Cannon

My dad, an avid hunter and taxidermist, has a soft, gooey center. He has brought home, and successfully nursed back to health, a string of wounded, starved or orphaned critters, including owls, raccoons an albino fawn, and a god-damned buzzard.

“Billy Buzzard’s” wing was caught in another hunter’s steel trap. the bones weren’t broken, but the shoulder muscle was badly torn. Dad stuck him in an unused cattle feeder (a big, round thing with a tin roof, suitable for containing one of those giant bales, plenty big enough, and safe).

Billy did not have enough in the crop to demonstrate his peristaltic howitzer at first, but after we cleared out the deep freeze and let some of the older stuff ripen for a few days, he had a full magazine.

None of it hit my face. I had to throw away my “Sworn to Fun, Loyal to None” t-shirt with the awesome skull on it, though.


Don’t tell me what I do and do not know about vultures

– Teenager reading this

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