Vultures are social birds that can be found on many continents around the world, except for Australia and Antarctica. They are often seen together as a group, but what do you call a collection of vultures?
The name of a group of vultures can vary depending on what they are doing. In general, you can call them a “flock.” When they are flying together in a specific formation, they are referred to as a “kettle.” If they are resting in a tree or on the ground, they are called a “committee.” While they are busy feeding, they are known as a “wake.”
In addition to these commonly used terms, there are some less frequently used names for a gathering of vultures. You might be curious about why they are called a wake and when and why they come together in communities. Keep reading for more information on these fascinating birds.
Additional collective nouns for vultures include:
What Is a Group of Flying Vultures Called?
Vultures are often seen flying together in a large group, circling over a specific area. They use rising warm air currents called thermals to stay in the air without using much energy while they search for food. These groups of flying vultures are called “kettles.”
Scientists used to believe that vultures only relied on their vision to find food. However, recent research has shown that some vultures also use sounds from dying animals to locate carcasses to eat.
What Is a Group of Roosting Vultures Called?
When vultures take a break and rest, they gather in groups on the ground, in trees, or on other structures. While resting, they often spread their wings to absorb the warmth from the sun, which helps regulate their body temperature. A group of roosting vultures is known as a “committee.”
There are also other names used to describe groups of roosting vultures, such as “venue” and “volt.” These birds play a crucial role in nature by cleaning up animal carcasses, reducing them almost to bones. This process allows smaller scavengers to further break down the remains until nothing is left.
What Is a Group of Feeding Vultures Called?
When vultures discover an animal carcass, a group of them descends to the ground to feed on it. A gathering of vultures feeding on a dead animal is typically called a “wake.” These groups of vultures can quickly clean the bones of a carcass.
Vultures stand on the carcass and tear off pieces of meat with their beaks. Since they may come into contact with bacteria or diseases from the dead body, they excrete waste onto their legs, causing their legs to appear white. This waste contains highly acidic uric acid that kills any microorganisms or bacteria they might have picked up from the carcass. This behavior helps prevent vultures from spreading diseases when they move to different locations.
Vultures also have highly corrosive stomach acid that protects them from getting sick while feeding on contaminated carcasses. They can consume carcasses infected with diseases like botulism, anthrax, cholera, and others without falling ill, while these diseases can be deadly for other animals.
What Is a Group of Baby Vultures Called?
Baby vultures look different from their parents, often having feathered heads and pale feathers. Both parent vultures collaborate to build a nest on the ground and take turns incubating the eggs. Female vultures typically lay around two eggs, and it takes over five weeks for them to hatch.
There is no specific term for groups of baby vultures. They are usually called “hatchlings” shortly after hatching, “chicks” when they grow a bit older, and “fledglings” just before they are ready to leave the nest.
Vultures have strong family bonds, with the breeding pair typically caring for their young for up to eight months after they leave the nest. The young vultures often remain with the family group and the larger flock, maturing and eventually raising their own offspring.
Do Vultures Flock Together in Groups?
Vultures come together in groups for various reasons. One reason is to protect themselves from predators, as it’s less likely for a predator to target a vulture in a large flock. Another reason for group living is for breeding purposes, as it’s easier for vultures to find mates within a large flock of birds.
Groups of vultures also work together to be more efficient in finding food, especially during migrations. Vultures migrate together in large groups when seasons change, often moving closer to the tropics from the extreme northern and southern parts of their range.
In places with seasonal rains, vultures follow the migration of grazing animals that are in search of food. Wherever these animals go, predators and scavengers, including vultures, follow to take advantage of the resources.
Why Is a Group of Vultures Called a Wake?
When vultures gather on the ground to feed on a carcass, they are often referred to as a “wake.” This term might seem unusual, as a wake is typically an event where friends and family come together to pay their respects to a deceased person. Clearly, vultures are not paying respects, but their behavior does resemble a gathering, which is why the term “wake” is used.
Vultures primarily feed on dead animals, known as carrion, and due to their scavenging nature, they are often found in groups when feeding on the unfortunate remains of deceased animals. Vultures have remarkable immune and digestive systems that allow them to consume carrion so rotten that it would be lethal to most other animals. This adaptability is one of their survival advantages. When carrion is scarce, vultures may also hunt small reptiles and rodents.
Why Do Vultures Flock Together in Groups?
Vultures are naturally social birds, and they gather in groups for various reasons, including migration and foraging for food. Large gatherings of vultures can improve foraging efficiency, especially when scavenging for scattered and unpredictable carrion, benefiting from local food sources. Another reason for their group behavior is to reduce the risk of predation, and it also provides opportunities for social interactions, such as finding mates.
Vultures often fly together in these large groups during migration or while searching for food. For example, Turkey Vultures often share roosts with Black Vultures, and these roosts can include hundreds of vultures.
When Do Vultures Flock Together?
Vultures like Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures tend to roost communally throughout the year. These roosts can be semi-permanent, lasting most of the year or even decades. They can also be seasonal or short-term, depending on proximity to a food source or for migration purposes.
During the breeding season, vultures still roost together, but they space themselves further apart and often pair up with a mate for roosting.
How Many Vultures Are in a Flock?
To be considered a flock or group of vultures, there are usually at least three to five other birds present in the same group. Vultures typically form groups of fewer than 100 individuals, although larger gatherings of up to 300 birds can occur, especially in winter or when other vulture species join them.
The most commonly observed number of vultures in a group ranges from 5 to 10, although groups of 10 to 20 vultures are also fairly common.