How Do Vultures Find Food? By Smell, Tracing Predators Or Scavengers?

How Do Vultures Find Food

Vultures are often depicted as cruel and creepy creatures, feeding on the dead animals left over by other scavengers or killing sick animals nearing death themselves and then consuming them dead. 

That is, for the most part, the truth. Vultures are scavengers, feeding on deceased animals.

They rarely purposefully attack healthy, well-off animals and usually are after already dead ones or one’s nearing the end.

But when you depend entirely upon dead meat to survive, there is the question of what the hunting process looks like for vultures. 

It’s certainly a curious inquiry to see whether it is their olfactory senses at the forefront of their hunting or if they rely on their extraordinary sense of vision – a classic character in birds of prey – to look for hurt or dead animals.

How Do Vultures Find Food? What Senses Do They Use?

Carrion is the term used to describe dead and decaying animals, that is the main course for vultures. 

Vultures mainly make use of their olfactory senses, that is their sense of smell to locate these carrions. 

The main olfactory senses work at capturing the molecules responsible for the smell from the air, while there are other periphery senses in the olfactory system that works at capturing liquid phased scents as well.

Apart from this though, they also make use of their vision. Vultures are birds of prey or predatory birds famed for many incredible feats of speed and strength. 

Added to this, they are renowned for their incredible keen eyesight, being able to catch sight of prey from the ground, even when going at their iconic speeds. 

When they chance upon this prey, they usually fill up their crop, an extra stomach-like organ which they use for storing food and fill it to the brim, causing it to balloon up. 

They then sit and laze around and about, as these captured prey get transferred to the stomach and gradually get digested and absorbed by the strong gastric juices of the vulture.

Black vultures are a group of vultures that look for food exclusively using flight. They fly around in the sky in search of dead prey and swoop down when they sight them.

Do Vultures Hunt For Food? How Do They Do It?

No, vultures do not hunt for food generally though on very very rare occasions, like when the availability of their usual prey is very very scarce, they do hunt small animals.

Known infamously as ‘nature’s garbage disposal’ they primarily eat dead animals, or those nearing their death. 

You might be wondering why they do this.

Is it not painstaking waiting for something to die before you can quell your rumbling stomach? Why not do the job yourself?

But that’s where you’d be wrong, if there’s one thing our natural world never runs out of, it’s death, and therefore vultures never really run out of food except on the rarest of occasions. 

And as much as they need the dead animals, we need them. As mentioned above, they are where the carrions or the animal carcasses go, otherwise, our forests would be littered with dead animals. 

They play their role perfectly and thus contribute to maintaining a truly balanced ecosystem.

From How Far Away Can Vultures Smell Dead Animals?

Vultures are famous in the bird kingdom for their impeccable and incredible sense of smell. 

They have an olfactory system so advanced, that it can smell carrion, that is dead animals, from over a mile away. They also boast the most complex and vast olfactory system of all birds.

Can Vultures Smell Blood?

Not necessarily. Though a sense of smell is not always a famed feature in birds, vultures have the unique and incredible talent of being able to smell the dead animals from over a mile away. 

But rather than the blood itself though, what they are smelling are the gasses that the body lets out as it decomposes, mainly sulfurous chemical compounds. 

Their incredible olfactory system can detect the chemical scent embedded within the grass from high up in the sky, where it then swoops down to satisfy its hunger.

Can Vultures Eat Humans?

Yes! Maybe not the most exciting news for you, but vultures don’t discriminate between classes or species when they see a dead creature. 

The question is ever only ‘is it dead?’ You need not worry though, no vulture is about to pounce on you and kill you, as we just explained, they will just wait for you to do by your own accord before they feast on you.

Maybe that is no comfort to you either but vultures are a crucial component of nature’s clean-up crew. 

Everything and everyone that is born must die, and we simply cannot have that many dead bodies on our hands just lying about – and that’s where the vultures come in. 

It might seem cruel and ruthless to us, to talk of “cleaning up” the dead, but that is just how nature works, she must keep the show going.

In Conclusion

That was the curious and mysterious world of vultures, who are often misunderstood and rarely acknowledged for the role they play in sustaining life and nature as we know it. 

We hope we answered all your questions and that you are leaving having learned something new.

Thank you for reading!

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