Of course, vultures eat dead things. When I think about vultures, I always picture a vulture feeding on a wildebeest carcass in Africa. It wasn't until I saw a vulture feeding on a deer carcass beside the road in Massachusetts that it actually occurred to me that we have vultures here in the U.S. too. Don't know why that was such a revelation, but it was. Perhaps because I'd never actually seen one before.
Vultures live on every continent except Antarctica, probably because there are dead things on every continent. There must be some other scavenger on Antarctica, because I'm sure there are dead things there too. However, there is a difference between 'old world' vultures (those found in Africa, Europe and Asia) and 'new world' vultures. The old world vultures depend on sight to find their next meal, while new world vultures (particularly turkey vultures) rely on smell.
It says on Wikipedia that "a group of vultures is called a wake, committee, or venue." A wake makes perfect sense since they eat dead things, a committee also makes sense, but venue?. After looking up venue in my dictionary, yes, venue also makes sense if you use the definition of 'the scene or locale of a large gathering such as a rock concert or sports event'. I've never considered a large group of vultures eating a carcass a sports event, but I guess it could be apropos. The word venue also comes the the Old French meaning a coming, arrival, approach. And if there's something dead around, vultures are sure to come. However, I think 'gang' would be a much better term.
Vultures are also known for having a bald head and neck. This helps when they reach their heads into a bloody carcass; they don't have feathers to get all gooed up with blood and other body parts. They have very corrosive stomach acid which allows them to eat putrid meat contaminated with botulism and anthrax that would be deadly for other animals to eat. Plus they pee directly down their legs because the uric acid helps kill bacteria collected from walking around in dead carcasses. After they eat all these wonderful things, they can use projectile vomit to defend themselves against predators.
White-backed vulture, Source: iibc.lynxeds.com
Grossed out yet? Didn't I tell you this was the perfect subject for Halloween?? But as vulgar as they are, what would we do without them??