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common name for large birds of prey of temperate and tropical regions. The Old World vultures (family Accipitridae) are allied to hawkshawk,
name generally applied to the smaller members of the Accipitridae, a heterogeneous family of diurnal birds of prey, such as the eagle, the kite, and the Old World vulture.
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 and eagleseagle,
common name for large predatory birds of the family Accipitridae (hawk family), found in all parts of the world. Eagles are similar to the buteos, or buzzard hawks, but are larger both in length and in wingspread (up to 7 1-2 ft/228 cm) and have beaks nearly as long as
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; the more ancient American vultures and condorscondor,
common name for certain American vultures, found in the high peaks of the Andes of South America and the Coast Range of S California. Condors are the largest of the living birds, nearly 50 in. (125 cm) long with a wingspread of from 9 to 10 ft (274–300 cm).
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 are of a different family (Cathartidae) with distant links to storksstork,
common name for members of a family of long-legged wading birds. The storks are related to the herons and ibises and are found in most of the warmer parts of the world.
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 and cormorantscormorant
, common name for large aquatic birds, related to the gannet and the pelican, and found chiefly in temperate and tropical regions, usually on the sea but also on inland waters.
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American vultures have no syrinx and are thus voiceless, emitting weak hisses. They feed voraciously and indiscriminately, chiefly on carrion. Because they have weak beaks and lack the strength of other birds of prey, they rarely attack other than helpless animals. Most vultures have dark plumage and small, naked heads. In the adult turkey vulture, or turkey buzzard, Cathartes aura (wingspread 6 ft/1.9 m), the head is red; in the smaller black vulture it is black; and in the tropical king vulture (with cream and black plumage) it is orange, crimson, and purple, with a neck ruff of gray down.

Vultures have keen sight and are effortless soarers, skillful at riding the thermal updrafts of their mountain habitats. They are normally solitary but will gather in crowds to feed. As valuable scavengers they are protected by law. A vulture of the Pleistocene epoch was the largest bird that ever existed, with a wingspread of 16 to 17 ft (4.9–5.1 m).

Vultures are frequently called buzzardsbuzzard,
common name for hawks of the genus Buteo and for the honey buzzards of the genus Pernis, of the Old World family Accipitridae. The name buzzard is also incorrectly applied to various hawks and New World vultures, such as the turkey vulture (
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, although the name is more correctly applied to hawks of the genus Buteo. Vultures are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Cathartiformes, family Cathartidae, and order Accipitriformes, family Accipitridae.


See study by T. van Dooren (2011).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


(pop culture)
Swooping into writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko's The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #2 (1963), the avaricious Vulture was the wallcrawler's first costumed foe (the Chameleon, the supervillain in issue #1, wore a mask, not a costume). No spring chicken, Adrian Toomes, the bald, beak-nosed, and sinewy senior partner of an electronics company, turns to crime once his conniving associate swindles his corporate profits. Donning an electromagnetic flying harness of his own design, the resentful Toomes accouters himself in a jade-hued, feathered outfit, and as the Vulture he vengefully strikes against his former colleague. Relishing the gifts of flight and enhanced strength afforded him by his harness, he becomes an airborne cat burglar, gliding silently from Manhattan rooftops and filching valuables from nescient prey. Spider-Man swings into his path, and after initially being beaten by the fluttering thief the web-slinger clips the Vulture's wings with a handheld apparatus that negates Toomes' anti-gravity device. Amazing Spider-Man #2's “Duel to the Death with the Vulture!” marked the first time Peter Parker—the friendly neighborhood superhero's youthful alter ego—secretly snapped photos of himself in action against the supervillains he encountered. Borrowing from his Aunt May a camera that belonged to his late Uncle Ben, Peter sold his exclusive aerial photos of the Vulture to publisher J. Jonah Jameson, beginning a long-standing relationship between the two. The Vulture returned in issue #7, having modified his flying harness but being trounced once again by Spider-Man. He joined Dr. Octopus, Sandman, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, and Mysterio as the original Sinister Six in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964), and was soon caged by the wallcrawler. In Amazing Spider-Man #48 (1967), the imprisoned Toomes violated the cardinal rule of penitentiary conduct—never confide in your cellmate—and, believing he was on his deathbed, told fellow con Blackie Drago the location of his hidden Vulture ensemble, having Drago vow to take wing to exact revenge upon Spider-Man. Drago had other ideas— lining his pockets through aerial thievery—but once he busted out of jail and became the new Vulture, he inevitably found himself in Spidey's sights. After a brief crime spree as the Vulture II, Drago was challenged by Toomes himself, fully recovered and back in the air, who defeated the usurper and reclaimed his Vulture mantle. A third Vulture briefly appeared in the mid- 1970s—Dr. Clifton Shallot, a university professor and bio-mutation scientist to whose body the Vulture uniform melded. The Vulturions, thieves who appropriated Toomes' technology, tried to take over the villain's roost in 1985. Yet Adrian Toomes, the one true Vulture, has bested all comers to resume his perch as one of Spidey's most retaliatory enemies, attacking the hero numerous times over the decades with his ability to soar at nearly 100 mph to heights of over 11,000 feet. Like the predator from which he takes his name, the Vulture will not rest until he picks apart Spider-Man's carcass. The Vulture was played by Paul Soles (also the voice of Spidey) in the animated cartoon Spider- Man (1967–1970) and by Eddie (Green Acres) Albert in the 1994–1998 Spidey toon. Scott McNeil voiced a parallel-world Vulture in three episodes of FOX Kids' Spider-Man Unlimited (1999–2001).
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a vulture?

A vulture is a bird that feeds on carrion (dead animals). Popular culture has further invested them with the associated trait of waiting for something to die. So a dream about a vulture often reflects a situation in our waking life in which we feel that someone else is waiting for us to die, or death in a less literal way, such as waiting for us to fail. A vulture dream can, of course, represent the opposite situation in which we are waiting for someone or something else to die or to fail.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for any of various birds of prey in the families Cathartidae and Accipitridae of the order Falconiformes; the head of these birds is usually naked.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. any of various very large diurnal birds of prey of the genera Neophron, Gyps, Gypaetus, etc., of Africa, Asia, and warm parts of Europe, typically having broad wings and soaring flight and feeding on carrion: family Accipitridae (hawks)
2. any similar bird of the family Cathartidae of North, Central, and South America
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
His camera is largely stationary, and he holds onto his images with vulturous patience.
The day she is paraded through the streets in her cage, Hortense and her vulturous friends smile contentedly.
Thanks to the recent DVD gold rush and "everyday low prices" at retailers like WalMart, MGM/UA's 4,000-title library suddenly looks like a golden goose on Viagra; in the vulturous eyes of private equity investors and even to strategic partners like Sony, studios are no longer about making movies but selling them.
This sordid, vulturous, diabolical old man reminded Nately of his father because the two were nothing at all alike.