There are only two types of vultures in Indiana, and both are protected species. Both varieties of vultures are protected species under the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. These are the Turkey Vulture and the Black Vulture. Thoughts of vultures sitting on gravestones may fill our minds when considering such creatures which is not exactly inaccurate.

Vultures are beneficial birds. Why? They clean up the mess from death. Vultures can eat dead animals that other predators cannot stomach. Vultures have a powerful stomach acid that allows them to consume even meat infected with botulism, distemper, rabies and even anthrax without any ill effects to its health.  When they overeat, they may vomit out food before they are able to fly away.

Vultures have a great sense of smell which can detect dead or rotting flesh over a mile away; in fact, some research shows it can be as far as 8 miles away.

The turkey vulture has a notable red head and gray feathers covering the underside of their wings and flies with its wings making a “V” shape. The only noise a turkey vulture makes is a hissing sound.

Black vultures have black colored heads and are shorter and more compact. Black vultures have been known to attack small animals including calves and peck out the eyes and later swoop in and feast. Black vultures are protected but it may be worth getting a depredation permit if available if livestock is at risk. Black vultures are monogamous and will stay with their mates for years and develop strong family bonds forming large communal roosts or haunts.

Even vultures have a place in nature.