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Vultures descend

Duration: 03:57

In Africa vultures cruise the skies above the plains. They eat carrion and find it using acute vision which allows them to watch over the plains from more than 1,000 feet up, their broad wings supported by warm columns of air rising from the baking ground. As well as watching the ground, they keep an eye on each other. If griffon vultures notice a lappet-faced vulture by a carcass, they will fly down to join it. But those descending will also be spotted by other birds and the news of the kill will spread across the network of watchers in the sky. Within a few minutes there will be a scrum of squabbling vultures. As they have no feathers on their heads, the vultures do not mind sticking their heads right into the body. Most of the meat on the plains is eaten by vultures, not by the big cats. To us the carcass smells foul, but these vultures have no sense of smell.

Available since: Thu 1 Dec 2011

This clip is from

The Life of Birds Meat-Eaters

4/10 David focuses on birds of prey, from meat-eating parrots to eagles that catch monkeys.

First broadcast: 14 Jun 2007

Image for Meat-Eaters Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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