Top 25 Birds that Scavenge

Top 25 Birds that Scavenge

Scavenging birds play a vital role in our ecosystems, they clean up carcasses before they have time to rot. Without scavengers, rotting carcasses would become hubs for harmful pathogens.

Vultures specialise in eating carrion and are highly efficient at cleaning up a carcass. But many other birds, like crows and eagles, will also scavenge if they get the opportunity.

Scavengers, in particular the vultures, are facing immense challenges due to poisoning, habitat transformation and persecution.As a result 16 out of the 22 vulture species in the world are listed as ‘at risk’ on the IUCN RedList.

Here we present the Top 25 Birds that Scavenge. Thank you to everyone who contributed photographs to this week’s theme. Many of these birds are threatened with imminent extinction and your photographs bring awareness to these majestic birds.

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Top 25 Birds that Scavenge

Lappet-faced Vulture – Credit Wasif Yaqeen

Fish Eagle Africa Preety Patel

African Fish Eagles mainly hunt for fish but they will scavenge occasionally. In Uganda African Fish Eagles have been seen scavenging at leopard and lion kills (Preety Patel)

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus Talwara Punjab Photo by Vani Khanna

A pair of Egyptian Vultures and a crow clean up a carcass in Taiwara, India (Vani Khanna)

Hooded vulture at masaimara Kenya by ramesh aithal

The face of the Hooded Vulture is usually white but when they become agitated it flushes red (Ramesh Aithal)

Crested Caracara primarily eats carrion but also eats small live prey. Florida United States. Melissa Penta

Crested Caracaras have been known to chase vultures in flight until the vulture regurgitates their food, the Caracara then catches the meat! (Melissa Penta)

Bald Eagles Conowingo Dam Maryland USA Kelly Hunt

An adult Bald Eagle about to steal a fish from a juvenile. These eagles are excellent hunters but will scavenge on carrion, especially during winter (Kelly Hunt)

Turkey Vulture California USA July 2018 Kilik Captures Kishore Liju Photography

The Turkey Vulture has a very good sense of smell and will use this to locate carrion (Kishore Liju)

Tawny Eagle Oct 2017.... Bikaner Rajasthan India. Sandipan Ghosh

Tawny Eagles have a broad diet which includes carrion (Sandipan Ghosh)

Steppe Eagle and Egyptian Vulture Oct 2017 Bikaner Rajasthan India. Sandipan Ghosh

A Steppe Eagle and Egyptian Vulture feed on a carcass in Bikaner, India (Sandipan Ghosh)

Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca Tal chhapar Rajasthan India Suranjan Mukherjee

Eastern Imperial Eagles are more reliant on carrion during winter, than summer (Suranjan Mukherjee)

Egyptian vulture Black kite following Egyptian vulture who have piece of meat Beerh Ghaggar Panchkula Haryana India Photographer Gur Simrat Singh

A Black Kite pursues an Egyptian Vulture with the intention of stealing its meal! (Gur Simrat Singh)

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus Bulgaria Eastern Rhodopes Photograph by Marios Mantzourogiannis

A Griffon Vulture photographed in snowy Bulgaria by Marios Mantzourogiannis

Himalayan Vultures or Himalayan Griffon Vultures Gyps himalayensis Beerh Ghaggar Panchkula Haryana India Photographer Gurpartap Singh

Himalayan Vultures will usually feed at carcasses in small groups of around 5 (Gurpartap Singh)

Ruppells Vulture Gyps rueppelli Kenya Masai Mara Photograph by Marios Mantzourogiannis

the body parts of Ruppell’s Vultures are regularly traded in central and west African markets (Marios Mantzourogiannis)

Griffon vulture at Naxos islands one of the few remaining colonies in Greece which at least is thriving by Antonis Tsaknakis

Overall, the population of Griffon Vultures seems to be increasing, an encouraging trend given that the majority of the world’s vulture populations are declining (Antonis Tsaknakis)

Himalyan Griffon Vulture Gyps Hemalayensis Rohtang Pass..Himachal Pradesh..lndia Photograph by Prakash Chimad

A Himalayan Vulture mid meal in Rohtang Pass, India (Prakash Chimad)

Lappet faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotos Kenya Masai Mara Photograph by Marios Mantzourogiannis

A magnificent portrait of Africa’s largest vulture, the Lappet-faced Vulture (Marios Mantzourogiannis)

Lappet faced vulture. Wasif Yaqeen

There is a distinct pecking order at carcasses, the larger Lappet-faced Vulture tends to dominate other scavenging birds (Wasif Yaqeen)

Marabou Stork Location Masai Mara Kenya Photo by Bhargavi Upadhya

Marabou Storks eat mainly carrion, their bills are not well designed for tearing open carcasses so they wait for the predator or other scavengers, like these Spotted Hyenas to open the carcass (Bhargavi Upadhya)

Lesser yellow headed vulture Cathartes burrovianus Anton Valley Panama Photograph by Adriana Dinu

Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures are found in central and south America (Adriana Dinu)

Lappet Faced Vulture Maasai Mara. Subramanniyan Mani

A Lappet-faced Vulture comes in to land in the Maasai Mara, Kenya (Subramanniyan Mani)

Steppe eagle Beerh Ghaggar Panchkula Haryana India Photographer Gur Simrat Singh

A stunning shot of a Steppe Eagle in flight (Gur Simrat Singh)

Ruppells Vulture Location Masai Mara Kenya Photo by Bhargavi Upadhya

this Ruppell’s Vulture will wait for the hyenas to finish feeding before approaching the carcass (Bhargavi Upadhya)

Marabou Stork. Maasai Mara. Kishore Reddy

A Marabou Stork feeds on carrion on the plains of the Maasai Mara, Kenya (Kishore Reddy)

White backed Vultures and Marabou Stork Gyps africanus and Leptoptilos crumenifer Serengeti National Park Tanzania Photographer Teri Franzen

A Marabou Stork waits for the White-backed Vultures to tear open a cattle carcass on the Serengeti (Teri Franzen)

White backed vulture Gyps africanus Masaimara reserve Kenya Suranjan Mukherjee 1 1

A pair of White-backed Vultures at a wildebeest carcass in Kenya (Suranjan Mukherjee)

Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs.

They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year.

That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page.

Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!

This article was first published by National Geographic on 10 Aug 2018.


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