Vultures, scavenging birds of prey, have a wide wingspan, which allows them to soar for long periods of time without flapping so much as a feather while looking for carrion to eat. There are 23 vulture species in the world, and at least one type of vulture is found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Vultures are carnivorous and eat carrion almost exclusively. They prefer fresh meat but are able to consume carcasses that may have rotted so much as to be dangerous for other animals. This gives vultures a unique and important ecological niche because they help prevent the spread of diseases from old, rotting corpses. Vultures have excellent senses of sight and smell to help them locate food, and they can find a dead animal from a mile or more away. It is a myth that vultures will circle dying animals waiting to feed. These birds are powerful fliers and will soar on thermals while they look for food, but when they locate a carcass, they will approach it quickly to begin feeding before other predators find it. Vultures have relatively weak legs and feet with blunt talons, though they do have powerful bills. If a carcass is too stiff for them to rip open, they will wait for another predator to open the flesh before they feed, which is why vultures are often seen in the company of other carrion-eating animals. New World vultures lack a syrinx and are nearly silent. They do not have songs, and their typical vocalizations are limited to grunts, hisses and similar sounds.
See also: Black vulture, Cinerous Vulture,Egyptian Vulture, Hooded vulture, King vulture, Palm nut vulture, Ruppell's Griffon Vulture, Turkey vulture, White backed vulture, White headed vulture