In honor of the Vulture Awareness Day Celebration that will be occurring next weekend, September 5th and 6th at the Raptor Centre in Duncan, BC; I have procured a tiny but fierce bantam Turkey Vulture! No glove required.
Vultures are actually the most threatened bird group in the world right now, despite once being considered one of the most abundant large birds of prey.
In southern Asia they are functionally extinct, as there are not enough members left to sustain the population. This is primarily due to the use of the cattle anti-inflammatory medication called diclofenac. Dead cattle with this product in their bodies are eaten by vultures who later experience kidney failure and death.
In Africa, population decline is due mostly to poisoning of nuisance animals such as jackals and wild dogs, which subsequently poisons the vultures who clean up their carcasses. Another reason for low populations is that many vultures take up to 5 years to reach breeding age and most will only lay one egg per year.
The Latin name for turkey vultures translates to Golden Purifier, as their super acidic stomach acids can destroy pathogens and parasites such as rabies, botulism and anthrax. This stops the life cycle of disease unlike with many other scavengers such as feral dogs who carry and spread them.
The Centre will be fundraising in order to support vulture research and conservation, so come one come all! You can get your picture taken with a vulture, have some tasty BBQ, and bid on a great selection of donated items in the silent auction. I’ll be there volunteering for both days.
(Full disclosure: The bird above is not actually a bantam Turkey Vulture, although I think she looks like one. She’s a 4 month Old English Game Hen that I received a couple of weeks ago. My intentions were to use her to hatch out pheasant eggs for me when I finally have some. Plus she’s just the cutest little thing. Loves to chat and hang out with me and instantly the queen of the coop. Nobody messes with her. For such a tiny chicken, she has a very big attitude!)
In case you’re curious, here’s what a black OEG roo looks like, although he’s supposed to be all black without the red hackles. If you want a pet chicken, these guys are the best.