There are two groups of vultures, Old World and New World vultures. All of them are carrion eaters, often with some degree of specialization (feeding only on bones ect.). They can digest not only rotten meat, but also meat infected with anthrax, Botulism and other disease, thus preventing infections from spreading.
Here's a vulture that those of you in the Americas may be familiar with, the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura). That is the only vulture species I have ever seen in the wild, in Oregon, where a group fed on a dead gull.
Turkey vultures are unusual birds because they have a very keen sense of smell and use it to find food, especially those populations living in wooded areas. They also don't have a larynx and can only vocalize in hisses and grunts.
A Monk Vulture (Aegypius monachus) so called because of the "shaved" head and cowl. It's a large bird, with a wingspan of up to 3 metres/119 inches and it can fly at very high altitudes, the haemoglobin in its blood can take in an extra amount of oxygen. It lives in Europe and Asia and it can feed on things like small bones, sinews and muscles that other vultures and carrion eaters won't eat.
This bird isn't blind in one eye, it just blinked and shows the nictitating membrane, the third eyelid.
Here's a Griffon Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) also known as Laemmergeier (lamb vulture) because it was believed that they attacked lambs. They are counted among the Old World vultures, but in fact they are not that closely related to other vultures and resemble hawks in many respects. They have a feathered neck because once they arrive at a carcass, there are usually only the bones left. The Bearded Vulture will then either crack the bones with its beak or pick up big bones and drop them onto rock from a great height. They feed almost exclusively on bone marrow. They used to be called Ossifrage, which means bone breaker, and they may also use that technique on tortoises.
Here's my favourite vulture, the King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa).
It lives in Central and South America and it got its name because when several vulture species will gather around a carcass, the King Vulture is the first to feed and will chase all the others away. With the exception of the condor, the King Vulture is the biggest vulture. Here's a closeup of the colourful head.
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), here's a much better picture. They are one of the few bird species who use tools, they crack ostrich eggs with stones. Apart from eggs, they eat just about anything: carrion, plants, insects and even faeces. They are common in Africa and there is a small population in Europe.
Depictions of Egyptian vultures were used as hieroglyphs and they were sacred birds.
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Photos were taken at Tierpark Berlin (Griffon and Monk Vulture), Zoo Frankfurt (King Vulture), Zoo Hannover (Egyptian Vulture) and Burgers Zoo (Turkey Vulture).