50 Interesting Facts About Vultures

Last updated on May 18th, 2023

41. In the past, people worshipped vultures. The Vulture Conservation Foundation points out one example, explaining that vultures were known for being excellent mothers in ancient Egypt. Because of this knowledge, Egyptians associated vultures with both compassion and maternity. 

42. In another instance of the respect that early civilizations had for vultures, Mayan legends indicate that King Vultures were messengers between the Gods and humans.

43. There is a holiday to celebrate vultures, which is called International Vulture Awareness Day. It takes place on the first Saturday in September. On this day, countless nature preserves, zoos, bird refuges, aviaries, and similar establishments encourage activities that raise awareness of what these birds do for the world.

Griffon Vulture on a tree branch
Photo © Ignacio Ferre Pérez

44. Out of the top ten highest flying bird species ever recorded, three of those spots are filled by vultures.

45. The highest flying bird species ever noted was the Rüppell’s vulture. Xplore Our Planet notes that one of these vultures was sucked into a jet’s engine while it flew at 37,000 feet — a height that surpasses Mount Everest by 8,000 feet.

46. According to BirdLife International, a live vulture has a value of $11,000 due to the services it provides to the ecosystem — that is, getting rid of diseased dead animals that could otherwise spread to the water supply.

47. Some vultures in Peru are equipped with their own GPS tracking devices or GoPro cameras. The data is tracked and enables the government to find areas where residents illegally dump trash.

48. Despite their natural ability to survive while literally feeding on death, vultures are not invincible. The biggest threat they face is the poison from lead or toxins in dead animals. They are also in danger of getting electrocuted from power lines or hit by cars while eating on the side of the road.

Griffon Vulture
Griffon Vulture. Photo © Ignacio Ferre Pérez

49. Diclofenac, a drug that veterinarians often prescribe to ailing animals, is toxic to vultures because it causes kidney failure. Sadly, it has led to a massive die-off. In some parts of Asia, the drug is responsible for the deaths of 99.9 percent of vultures. Similar trends occurred in India and Africa.

50. In 2007, the very first Vulture Restaurant was created by Bird Conservation Nepal in Kawasoti. The group established places for aging cows to die peacefully and then left the corpses at these “restaurants,” which allow vultures to eat meat that is fresh and not poisoned.

Vultures – quick facts

HabitatDeserts, savannah and grassland near water
Lifespan20 - 30 years
Predatorshawks, snakes, wild cats, golden eagles, bald eagles, great horned owls