Why Vultures Are Being Celebrated In Boise

Sep 6, 2013

Lucy is a 12-year-old Turkey Vulture that lives at the World Center for Birds of Prey.
Credit The Peregrine Fund

They’re not the prettiest bird species, but vultures play a vital role in nature and some of them are in trouble. That’s the message behind International Vulture Awareness Day Saturday.

The Peregrine Fund and the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise will celebrate vultures with displays and exhibits.

Genny Gerke is an Education Specialist for the Peregrine Fund. She says we do have vultures that come to Idaho. Turkey Vultures migrate here every year. “They're here as residents in mostly the summer months and they’ll go south starting around now," says Gerke. "So, it’s likely you would see them in September on their way to follow food and go south.”

California Condors are a kind of vulture
Credit The Peregrine Fund

Gerke says vultures are in trouble in many parts of the world.

  • In Africa, farmers are afraid the birds will go after their livestock. While some vultures have been documented killing very weak or sick animals, they’re primarily carrion eaters, so they usually only eat animals that are already dead.
  • California Condors, also a kind of vulture, are threatened by lead ammunition, left behind by hunters.
  • Elephant poachers have been poisoning vultures, according to National Geographic -  “Poachers lace the discarded elephant carcass with cheap poisons to kill vultures in mass.  Why? Because vultures circling in the sky alert wildlife authorities to the location of poachers’ activities.”

Lucy the vulture with Raptor Specialist Trish Nixon.
Credit Bruce Parks / The Peregrine Fund

International Vulture Awareness Day is celebrated around the world.  Saturday’s celebration in Boise runs from 10 to 5 p.m. at the World Center for Birds of Prey.

Lucy, a 12-year-old turkey vulture, will be on exhibit.  She’s an education ambassador for her species. She was confiscated in Louisiana from poachers, but now lives a comfortable life at the center. Three male California Condors will also be on exhibit, one juvenile and two adults.  

Here are some reasons to love vultures, and how some species are struggling.  Note: this video contains come graphic pictures:

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