I thought this would be a nice Halloween-based subject. One mistake people typically make is calling a vulture a buzzard. And I just want to set the record straight. A buzzard is not a vulture!! Buzzards and vultures do share the same family, a family called the Accipitridae. The same family that contains hawks and eagles. But buzzards are very different birds. Buzzards are typically birds in the genus Buteo. Buteo is a genus that also contains the familiar red-tailed hawks. "Buzzard" is the name given to the smaller specimens in the genus. Here's some pics of buzzards. These are all birds that can truthfully be called "buzzards".
This is a Lizard Buzzard.
This is a Honey Buzzard.
Get the picture? Don't worry, this is a mistake made by a lot of people. We've been brainwashed by old movies, TV shows and cartoons to believe buzzards are the birds with the long, naked neck and head. But it is not so. Those are typically vultures.
Vultures are regarded as omens of evil and seen by most people as possibly the world's ugliest birds. Personally, I like vultures! They have an inner beauty that so few of us actually see. But they are the ones that have the almost prehistoric-looking heads. They are designed that way for a reason. They feed on large, already dead animals killed by other animals, or by disease. Vultures are virtually immune to anthrax, botulism, and all those other nasty little diseases that contaminates dead animals and the environment. This is why I see the beauty in these birds that others do not see. If it weren't for them, our world would be crawling with all kinds of nasty germs!! The heads of vultures are designed to dig deep into carcasses and not get their plumage too dirty.
As for vultures being evil, I don't agree with that either. Vultures are a lot less vicious than their relatives, the hawks and eagles. They don't even kill their own prey. They rely on the success of other predators. And unlike scavenging mammals, like lions and hyenas, vultures are not apt to steal kills. This Red-headed Vulture is actually the bird that many of us have come to know as vultures:
But there are actually several forms. Check out the hair-do on this Egyptian Vulture:
And I think even the most discriminating person would be impressed with the colors on this King Vulture:
IMO, they are beautiful birds in their own way. But now you know the difference between buzzards and vultures. Though they are closely related, they are not necessarily one in the same.