International Vulture Awareness Day 2016

Turkey Vulture thermoregulating in a fieldTurkey Vulture thermoregulating in a field

Today is International Vulture Awareness Day.  Vultures in the U.S. are doing well except for our California Condors because although they have made a comeback from near extinction they still face lead poisoning from ammunition in the carcasses they consume and from the use of DDT over four decades ago which causes their eggs to have such thin shells that they can’t be hatched.

Immature Turkey Vulture on a power poleImmature Turkey Vulture on a power pole

Vultures and condors are scavengers and help to clean up the environment by consuming carrion, road kill and gut piles left from the kills of human and non-human hunters. Lead toxicity has been identified as the leading cause of death in condors in California condor reintroduction programs because they eat lead pellets on some of the carrion they consume. Non-lead based ammunition is available and I hope that one day all hunters will use ammunition that is lead free to help the condors and vultures of the world.

Turkey Vulture wing liftTurkey Vulture wing lift

In Europe the use of diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory used in cattle and pigs, is highly toxic to vultures and kills them within hours after they consume carcasses contaminated with diclofenac. There are safer alternatives for that drug and Europe needs to ban diclofenac now to save their vultures.

Immature Black VultureImmature Black Vulture

Yes, I know many people think that vultures are ugly or have faces that only a mother could love but they fill an ecological niche as nature’s recyclers. They are great scavengers plus the world would be a far stinkier place without them.

Events to raise awareness about the vultures of the world are taking place all over the globe.




  1. Elephant's Child September 3, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Our short-sided greed has long lasting deleterious effects way too often.
    Yay for the cleanup crew.

  2. April Olson September 3, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I love all types of vultures except in the rehab, they are great at throwing up on you as a defense. I wish more people valued them, vultures are so important in the ecosystem. Lead ammo is an issue with many types of birds. I will be happy when it is banned.

  3. Utahbooklover September 3, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Love to watch them soaring in the thermals, sometimes over our houses here in Brigham City and sometimes in Bountiful or even Salt Lake City. Thanks for the reminder to hunters and the great images too.

  4. Patty Chadwick September 3, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Mia–you do so much to raise awareness of so many important issues, including this one. I am grateful to you and only wish I could clone you and expand your audience…(vultures are no beauties on the ground maybe, but there are nothing more beautiful than their soaring ballet on the the thermals!)….

  5. Bob McPherson September 3, 2016 at 6:54 am

    Beautiful photos, Mia. Yes, Only a mother could love that ugly face.

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