Animal Allies Series: Vulture

Today's Animal Ally lessons are brought to you by one of my favorite maligned creatures: the vulture!

The vulture is one animal in particular that causes a great deal of disgust amongst those who do not know her. I tell you, friends, she is quite special and deserving of your attention.

Fast Facts

  • In North America, we have two species of vulture: the Turkey Vulture (has a pink head) and the Black Vulture (has a grayish head).
  • Soaring vultures are often confused for eagles because of their large wingspan, but eagles do not bend their wings into a V-shape (known as a dihedral) when flying. Vultures also lilt side to side as they lazily soar on thermals, sometimes for hours without flapping.
  • Turkey vultures are one of the only birds with an excellent sense of smell. (That's right, most birds can't smell.) They can smell dead stuff for miles, and they prefer it as fresh as possible! What they make up for in a sense of smell, they lack in song - vultures do not have the anatomy for song. They just grunt and hiss.
  • Vultures are intelligent and live in social groups with distinct hierarchies. The elders keep the youngsters in line by kicking them out of the best roosting spots.
  • Vultures get a bad rep for some habits that, to humans, are admittedly gross: they pee on themselves when they're hot to cool off, they projectile vomit when startled by predators, and they have featherless heads because it's easier to keep a bald head clean when sticking it into a carcass.

Vultures have incredibly powerful digestive systems

They can ingest a variety of nasty bacteria without ill effects.
The vulture is an animal of transformation, transmutation, and rebirth. It literally consumes that which is dead, digests the good and the bad, and then creates life out of it. They can process negative, terrible stuff and just release it into their waste. They are, essentially, a double-whammy of transformation: turning death into life, and neutralizing the negative and dangerous.

Vultures have featherless faces

This keep them clean when sticking their heads into a carcass. They are among the few birds that wear no mask - so vulture tells us to take our masks off, and not to fear our naked selves beneath, even if people may call us ugly without knowing us. She says, reach for the good, vitamin-rich meat on the inside of the issue. Have no fear of the void, the darkness between life and death; only society has taught us to fear this line. Spirit lives there, too. Have no fear of what others may say: reach for your truth even if others don't understand.

Important work often requires a certain reputation

Vultures do an incredible service to the earth, and yet we judge them based on their looks and habits. Be prepared to face the backlash when you live your own truth; those who do not understand will try to make you feel inadequate.

  A black vulture nestling, covered in down that is not yet waterproof.

A black vulture nestling, covered in down that is not yet waterproof.

To summarize, vultures teach us about:

  • transformation
  • rebirth
  • regeneration
  • processing the bad and the good equally, together - and then letting the bad leave the body/mind/soul
  • pursuing our own truth & getting to the meat of our issues
  • loving ourselves without our masks
  • ignoring the haters
  • trusting our paths and living them fully

Vulture is an incredibly special ally and one of my favorite animals. They have a particularly important role in the earth-web, and they are a powerful teacher during times of change and self-discovery.

I offer up these thoughts to the beautiful, holy vulture spirits in an honorable way and thank them for the beautiful sun-greeters for their teachings. It is good!

Thanks for reading and please share (link is bottom left) - everyone could use a little more vulture. Did you learn something new today? Tell me in the comments!

Big love,


Vulture image in header photo by user Dori, CC BY-SA 2.0