THE HAWK & OWL CENTRE AT MUNCASTER CASTLE
Vultures at Muncaster
Muncaster Hawk & Owl Centre is home to critically endangered hooded vultures (necrosyrtes monachus). You may even have found this web page after meeting one on your recent visit to Muncaster! Read on to find out why our vulture ambassadors are so vital to our work at MHOC …
Vultures fill a vital ecological niche. They are obligate scavengers – this means they have a diet entirely made up of carrion (dead animals). By consuming a carcass, vultures can eliminate it as a potential harbour for disease and bacteria. The birds have several adaptions which allow them to safely eat carrion – including their iconic bald head, which allows them to reach inside a carcass to eat without getting feathers clogged up on their face and neck, and their strong stomach acid which breaks down bacteria which may be lethal to other animals.
Vultures are also an important indicator species – it means that the health of vulture populations is a biological reflection on the health of the ecosystem.