September 5, 2015
International Vulture Awareness Day
- as seen by -Natalia Hook
“Do you ever give them live food?”
This is a question I’ve gotten numerous times while feeding at the Birds of Prey Aviary at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo.
In addition to bald eagles and four species of owl, there are also three species of vulture at the aviary. Although it is likely the most well-known of vulture facts, it still amazes some people that these birds feed on carrion, or dead animals, almost exclusively.
More surprising to most guests to the zoo is the appearance of one of my favorite vultures, the beautiful king vulture. Native to Mexico and South America, these colorful scavengers occupy an important environmental niche. By consuming dead animals that would otherwise rot, they check the spread of disease.
Their beauty lies in the eyes of beholders. The vibrant folds of skin around their head and neck may be used as a means for adult vultures to communicate that they recognize each other, or to express dominance.
This year, celebrate the king vulture and all the incredible vulture species of the world on International Vulture Awareness Day, Saturday, September 5.
What’s the best way to honor these fascinating birds? Learn more about how you can a make a difference in vulture conservation through this Wild View post, Ecological Sentinels, an interview with research biologist, Todd Katzner.