Monday, August 22, 2011

International Vulture Awareness Day

What are you doing for International Vulture Awareness Day 2011? Nothing, you say? Well, better start planning. There are only two weeks left before September 3rd.

Vultures have traditionally had a contentious relationship with humans. They preform a valuable service, cleaning up things we definitely don't want to, and yet they have unfairly been painted as harbingers of death in many cultures. Yes, they eat dead things. But then again, so do our pets. Most of us do too, for that matter. The difference is that vultures haven't killed what they eat. But they do eat it in a rather ostentatious manner.

Why should you care about vultures? For one thing, they're an important part of most ecosystems. In the U.S., during the 50s and 60s, turkey vultures were poisoned and shot. Their numbers plummeted. Why? because people assumed that they spread diseases and bad luck. Turns out, the complete opposite was true. Thankfully, we now have more enlightened policies about vultures in this country, and their numbers have rebounded.

That doesn't mean that vultures are out of the woods though. Around the world they are under threat from pesticides, wind turbines, hunting, and just plain ignorance. It's a sad situation, and one that gets very little press. Most people know that tigers are in trouble, but how many know that Egyptian vultures could be gone within the decade? And yet, a man in Spain is currently being prosecuted for deliberately poisoning one. Would he have done that if he knew how rare and valuable they are?

Want to help vultures? You can visit the International Vulture Awareness page to find a list of participating zoos and organizations where you can learn more and even meet a vulture up close. The Audubon Society of Portland, for example, will be hosting a meet and greet with Ruby the turkey vulture. You can also spread the word: vultures are nothing to be afraid of! Sure, they have some nasty habits, but what species doesn't? Certainly humans have a few of their own.


  1. I appreciate vultures. Thanks for making me aware of the awareness day.

  2. Wow, I had not idea vultures could be so pretty.

  3. Some of them are quite stunning, Sandi! It was a surprise to me too.

    Aimee, thank you!

  4. Absolutely love these natural born recyclers! Great pics Frog!

  5. I'm not usually a vulture person, but I saw a really cool vulture Halloween decoration the other day. I think it was at a Lowe's hardware store. It was filled with twinkle lights, and was actually pretty cute!

  6. Thanks, Upcycled!

    Justine, a sparkly vulture? I might have to find a Lowe's and scout that out!

  7. I've always enjoyed seeing turkey vultures gliding on their white and black wings. Once I took my kids to a raptor demonstration at the Oregon Zoo. The turkey vulture flew over the crowd, only a few yards from the ground. He spotted my son's strawberry applesauce and stopped for a bite. It was amazing to see that huge beautiful bird so close up! Applesauce wasn't really to his liking, though, so he went back to his handler for a nice dead mouse :)


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