Old World Vultures are the most endangered group of birds in the World. They are under threat from poisoning, electrocution and habitat loss. The fate of the Vulture is not helped by the fact they are often misconceived as being “dirty” due to their diet of carrion. Neither are they the prettiest of birds, with a bald, featherless head and a hooked beak. However, if you take a little time to learn about these birds you will soon understand why Vultures are amazing.
At the Lake District Wildlife Park, we house three Vultures: Baldric and Farnham our two Turkey Vultures and Gonzo our Hooded Vulture. Baldric is 11, Gonzo is 16 and Farnham is approximately 23 years old. Turkey Vultures often sit with their wings outstretched which helps them warm up, cool down or dry off.
Gonzo, a real character has been at the Park for 3 years, he is our ambassador for the International Vulture Programme. He features in our Bird of Prey flying displays whilst our bird Keeper explains how these birds live in the wild.
Vultures are an extremely important part of the food chain. They clear away the rotting flesh of mammals, which may reduce the spread of disease. However, the Vultures must have an incredible digestive system as they do not appear to contract any disease themselves.
Apart from being the “clean-up crew” Vultures have some incredible adaptations to enable them to survive in the wild. Turkey Vultures have an incredible sense of smell, being able to detect a carcass from over a mile away.
The Lake District Wildlife Park support the International Vulture Programme who work with partner organisations to help to conserve these birds in the wild. If you would like to join or learn more about these birds, pop down to the Park and watch one of our popular bird displays. Our Keeper doesn’t peck.