Friday, September 04, 2009

International Vulture Awareness Day 2009

Today, September 5th, is International Vulture Awareness Day. Vultures (sometimes wrongfully called Buzzards, which is a term for Old World hawks - Buteos) play a vital role in our ecosystems by cleaning up dead carcasses. Many people wrongfully fear vultures, which is unwarranted. Below are some facts about vultures that make them cool - at least to me anyway!

Did you know that a group of vultures is called a wake?

A "wake" of Black and Turkey Vultures.

Black Vulture Coragyps atratus

Turkey Vultures are one of very few birds that can actually smell, which allows them to locate carrion by scent. Black Vultures (which cannot smell) take advantage of the TV's ability to find carcasses by scent and often repay the TVs by bullying them while feeding.

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Photo: USFWS

According to DNA studies, New World Vultures, (Black and Turkey Vultures around here) are more related to storks than raptors. Many people find this hard to envision, but when I picture storks like the Wood Stork and Jabiru , the similarities are very apparent to me. This is called convergent evolution.

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Photo: USFS

Did you know that the pH of a vulture's stomach acid is 0 (pH of water is 7)? This makes it very corrosive and allows them to eat rotting flesh that contains bacteria/toxins such as anthrax and botulinum, which would kill just about any other animal. This also allows them to use it as a weapon, for when they feel threatened, they can projectile vomit at their harasser.

I think vultures are cool!


  1. Loved the post!! Interesting info...I didn't know they were called a "wake!" Beautiful photos as well...

  2. Very cool. Awesome Ph values in their stomaches too :)

  3. I think vultures are cool too! Great post!

  4. Donald- I recognize the Hueston Woods Lodge- back when I was studying at Miami, I always could count on seeing vultures there, both turkeys and blacks.


  5. Fascinating info on vultures. Learned something new about their stomach pH and the their projectile vomiting when bothered. Cool!

  6. Vultures are definitly a good looking matter what anyone else thinks!

  7. Anonymous7:12 AM

    nice blog is all about bird keep succes for u n all great pic