It’s safe to say that vultures in general and turkey vultures, in particular, have a pretty bad reputation. These scavengers are usually depicted hovering over some helpless cowboy lost in an arid desert, licking their beaks in cruel anticipation. Because of this, people in many cultures believe that vultures are disgusting, filthy, disease-carrying birds.
Sadly, this stereotype has some negative consequences in the real world and has brought about some struggles for these important birds, many of which can actually be quite beautiful! In order to correct it, various conservation groups have made the first Saturday in September Vulture Awareness Day, also called International Vulture Awareness Day.
History of International Vulture Awareness Day
International Vulture Awareness Day, which aims to raise awareness of all species of vultures, began in 2009 through a collaboration between the Birds of Prey program in South Africa and the Hawk Conservatory Trust in the United Kingdom. Because of the strength of these two programs, the day quickly spread around the world.
Zoos and wildlife organizations from the United States and Canada to India, Uganda, Serbia, Australia, Tunisia and elsewhere host events where members of the public can learn more about vultures and sometimes even get up close to see and experience them!
The first Saturday in September has been set aside as a day to consider the ecological importance of a bird of prey that is otherwise mostly dismissed with a shudder. With some species under severe threat of extinction, International Vulture Awareness Day aims to educate and turn around the ideas of a reluctant public in the critical role of this creature, to the well-being of the environment.
With vultures traditionally being perceived as representing death and decay, conservationists involved in preserving their numbers have faced an uphill battle in fund-raising efforts and in making theirs a more sympathetic cause. Hopefully, the joint effort of South Africa’s Birds of Prey Programme and England’s Hawk Conservancy Trust in establishing a day of vulture awareness will change public attitudes with the help of International Vulture Awareness Day.
How to Celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day
Looking for fun ideas and plans to celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day? Check out some of these ways to get involved with honoring this bird on this important day:
Attend an International Vulture Awareness Day Event
Anyone wanting to share in the celebrations should look for a vulture event at a local zoo or wildlife park! Hop on to the International Vulture Day website to find out more about events that are happening all over the globe. Those vulture fans not lucky enough to have a local event can still celebrate, of course! One way might be to make a request to a local zoo or another animal center with aviaries to host an event in honor of the day.
Watch a Documentary About Vultures
Learn more about vultures in honor of International Vulture Awareness Day, and get that info from reading books, researching online or watching a documentary. Check out some of these shows and films that feature the important role of vultures in the environment and for humans:
- Giving Nature a Voice: Vanishing Vultures, A Race Against Time (2021)
- Vulture Culture: Nature’s Greatest Moments (2020)
- The Vulture Documentary (2022)
Host a Vulture Themed Party
Sure, it’s a weird reason to have a party, but it’s a great way to raise awareness about vultures! Gathering a group of friends to watch a vulture-centric nature documentary can help share the love of these noble but misunderstood animals in celebration of International Vulture Awareness Day. And, of course, the decorations for the party should certainly be themed around vultures and birdies. For the ambitious, a vulture-shaped cake could make the perfect accompaniment!
Make a Donation to Help Vultures
Considering that some vultures are now at risk or in danger, International Vulture Awareness Day would be an ideal time to help out a charity that assists them. The Vulture Conservation Foundation and Vulpro are some of the many different conservation organizations helping to promote the life and health of vultures.
Learn Some Benefits of Vultures
One of the best ways possible to go about celebrating International Vulture Awareness Day would be to get educated about the positive aspects of vultures. This is a great time for parents, teachers and other caregivers of children to reframe the way society thinks about these important birds by passing the information on through kids.
Check out some of these benefits that vultures provide to the environment and pass them on in celebration of the day:
The key role of the vulture in signaling the presence of a carcass to other scavengers prevents contamination by pathogens and helps keep nature free of disease.
Vultures are the only land-based vertebrate that feeds almost completely on the carcasses of dead animals, giving them an extremely unique role in the ecosystem.
The stomach acid of a vulture is extremely corrosive, removing toxins from the environment through their eating and digestive processes while combating diseases like botulism, rabies and anthrax.