Vultures are highly sociable birds found on most continents of the world - excluding Australia and Antarctica. Most of the time, vultures are spotted as a collective unit, so what is the collective noun for a group of vultures?
The term or name for a group of vultures varies depending on where they are, although the generic term is a flock. When they are flying in formation, they are referred to as a kettle. When they are resting in a tree or on the ground, vultures are called a committee, and whilst feeding, they are known as a wake.
Continue reading for other less commonly used collective nouns for a flock of vultures, along with more information on why they're called a wake and why and when they form communities together.
A kettle of Turkey Vultures, soaring high up in the sky
A group of vultures eating a dead animal is called a wake.
When vultures descend onto the ground to feed on a carcass, they are known as wake.
A wake is an event where family and friends gather to pay their respects to a loved one. Vultures are most certainly not paying their respects, but they do resemble a family gathering around the deceased at a funeral, which is why the term wake has been earnt.
Vultures diets mainly consist of dead animals (carrion), and because of their scavenger like nature, they are mostly found in groups feeding on the carcass of an unfortunate dead animal.
The immune and digestive system of a vulture is somewhat incredible, as, unlike many other birds, they can eat carrion that is so rotten that it would simply kill other animals that eat it. This is one of the survival advantages for them.
When carrion is not available, vultures will also hunt small reptiles and small animals like rats.
A wake of vultures, gathered around a carcass
Vultures are naturally a gregarious species, and they flock together for migration and also to forage for food. These large roosts can mean that the efficiency of foraging becomes much better, especially on unpredictable, dispersed carrion by local enhancement. Another reason is to avoid predation, and it can also be a good opportunity for social interactions for finding mates, etc.
Vultures will often also fly together in these large groups for migration or for foraging and searching for food.
Turkey Vultures will commonly roost communally with Black Vultures, and these roosts can contain hundreds of other vultures.
A group of Egyptian Vultures, walking along the ground together
Vultures like the turkey and black vulture roost communally all year round. These roosts can either be semi-permanent for most of the year or sometimes even for decades. These roosts can also be seasonal or extremely short when close to a food source or for migration only.
During the breeding season, vultures will generally still roost together but are much more spaced apart and roost in a pair with their mate.
To be considered a flock or group of vultures, it's commonly required for there to be at least three to five other birds in the same group.
Vultures generally form groups of less than 100 individuals together, but it's not uncommon for counts up to 300. The higher numbers are usually during the winter and when other species join forces.
The most common number seen for most species is 5 to 10 other birds; however, 10 to 20 is also fairly common as well.
A group of Black Vultures
There are no specific terms for a group of baby vultures, and instead, they are referred to as a brood of chicks, nestlings or fledglings, depending on what stage of life they're at.
There are no specific terms for a group of turkey vultures, and instead, they can be referred to as any of the general collective nouns for vultures. Such as a wake, kettle or committee.
A group of black vultures is referred to as the same general collective nouns used for all species of vulture, including a flock, looming and volt.
Do you have a question about this topic that we haven't answered? Submit it below, and one of our experts will answer as soon as they can.
Get the latest BirdFacts delivered straight to your inbox