I was wondering if vultures ever take live prey. Would they be able to kill a sick, weakened critter, or do they exclusively dine on dead things?
Yes, they occasionally will kill weak, injured, or helpless animals. This is rare, however.
As Colibri said, Vultures are opportunistic, and generally scavengers. Will they join in a kill already in progress, or go after sick and dying animals? Only if there isn’t something easier to eat somewhere else.
I asked this question once of a docent at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park.) They gave the same answer: sure, once in a while, they’ll kill something for food. But it’s rare, and they prefer pre-deceased yumyums.
The cartoon isn’t a lie!
New World vultures don’t have raptorial feet like hawks or eagles. Their feet are relatively weak and have blunt claws. Turkey vultures and black vultures also have relatively weak beaks compared to other raptors. This makes it hard for them to kill anything that might put up a struggle.
In addition, they have trouble biting through the hide of larger animals. They may need to wait until a carcass is opened up by predators or other scavengers (or by being run over by a car). If not, they go in through the bodies orifices or wait till rotting softens it up.
The Vulture has tried to kill Spider-Man on multiple occasions.
Apparently, black vultures are more likely to take live prey than turkey vultures, but it will still be weak, small or newborn animals. There is this article about starving vultures in Spain because of laws intended to control mad cow disease:
Hey, thanks for the replies.
Im pretty sure they dont always wait for their supper to die though. I remember a David Attenborough clip where they start pecking at some weakened animal before it drew its last breath.It’s not murder, but it surely speeds up the process…
Depends on the species. My favorite vulture species, the Egyptian vulture, will take prey and is even known to use tools to break eggs. The lappet-faced vulture is known to hunt, as is the bearded vulture/lammergeier.
Its not murder ? Is it euthanasia ?
Well intent is often used in human cases…
Well, they can be ‘fooled’ into doing so as part of a truly horrific form of torture (search for "vulture’ on linked page).
Mention vultures and I think of this: