Eaters of the Dead: Vultures, as part of the group known as birds of prey, have acute eyesight, muscular legs and sharp bills. While most birds of prey feed on live animals, the vulture specializes in eating the bodies of the dead. When a particularly good prize is discovered, it is not uncommon to find up to six different species of vulture taking part in the feeding frenzy.

Skills and Adaptations: Some species have adaptations or skills suited to the scavenger way of life. The African white-backed vulture lacks feathers on its long neck. This helps the bird dig deep into a carcass without getting soiled. The small Egyptian vulture, which rarely has a chance when other larger vultures are tearing into a carcass, has learned to use stones to break open ostrich eggs. The Turkey vulture, often called a buzzard, has an acute sense of smell, enabling it to find roadkill before other vultures can beat it to its reward.

Old World and New World: The Old World vultures of Africa, Asia and Europe are not closely related to the New World vultures of the Americas. These birds are collectively called vultures because they look similar and fill the same ecological niche.