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Anita's Blog -- Vulture Awareness Day


Turkey Vulture (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

Vulture Awareness Day is the first Saturday in September


Cool Facts about Vultures (taken from a brief Google search)

  • Texas has Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures.

  • Vultures are nature’s clean-up crew.

  • Vultures eat roadkill; they generally do not kill.

  • When food is unavailable, vultures can go without a meal for up to 17 days.

  • Consuming deteriorating roadkill curbs the spread of dangerous diseases and bacteria.

  • Enzymes in a vulture’s stomach kills off dangerous toxins and microorganisms.

  • Vultures will eat freshly dead carrion and decaying carcasses.

  • Some vultures can smell a rotting corps from a mile high in the sky.

  • Vultures can spot a three-foot carcass from four miles away on the open plains.

  • Vultures’ beak and feet are weak; they cannot carry their food.

  • If a carcass has too thick a hide for a vulture’s beak, it waits for a larger scavenger to eat first.

  • Vultures are mainly carnivorous, they eat rodents, rabbits, small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, raccoons, opossums, foxes, coyotes and dogs and some vegetation.

  • Turkey vultures are peaceful; black vultures can be aggressive at a feeding site.

  • A hungry vulture will go straight to the softest parts – the eyeball and the butt, according to a National Geographic Explorer, Jen Guyton.

  • Vultures’ natural enemies are hawks, snakes and wildcats.

  • Vultures’ self-defense is to vomit their food, which they can send sailing 10 feet.

  • In flight, Turkey vultures teeter from side to side on V-shaped wings, a contorted soaring behavior.

  • Turkey vultures rarely flap their wings in flight, instead they glide along on drafts.

  • Vultures’ spread-wing posture is a means of thermoregulation and drying.

  • A group of flying vultures is called a kettle.

  • A group of resting vultures is called a committee.

  • Turkey vultures often mate for life or for many years and often stay together throughout the year.

  • Black vultures are monogamous and are believed to mate for life.

  • Vultures roost in trees in family units and large community groups consisting of several hundred vultures; they break away to forage independently during the day.

  • Vultures in Tibetan culture are sacred.

  • Athena (Greek goddess of wisdom, Buto (Egyptian snake goddess) and other gods and goddesses honored vultures.

  • The vulture spirit animal is associated with harmony, purity and cleansing.

Migrating vultures will soon be returning to the Rio Grande Valley, joining our resident birds. Don’t miss an opportunity to watch them come into roost at night this winter at Weslaco’s Frontera Audubon Society. Read about the spectacle here:


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