Research

Study of Scavenging Raptors

Monitoring New World Vultures

Former intern Adrian Naveda-Rodriguez wing-tags vultures in South America

Follow tracking maps
Read the blog:
The Vulture Chronicles

Learn more or support this work:
Dr. Keith Bildstein at 570-943-3411 x108

Goals of the Study:

  • Routinely monitor seasonal populations of New World vultures in North, Central, and South America
  • Prevent catastrophic population declines by sharing information learned with conservation partners
  • Use Black and Turkey Vultures as environmental sentinels of ecological change and environmental contamination, including climate change and heavy-metal contamination

Track our tagged vultures

Map shows movements of tagged vultures in the Americas

A major goal of our work is to provide the general public, including school children, with the ability to track the daily movements of these important scavengers across North and South America. Visit our easy-to-use online mapping page to view all birds and their movements, and to see locations on differnet dates. All you need is an Internet connection! Learn more now.

Why Study Scavengers?

Former intern Martha Nzisa, Kenya, now works to protect scavenging raptors in her home country.

Because scavenging birds eat dead and dying animals they are particularly prone to endangerment. The carcasses they feed on may have pesticides, toxins such as lead shot and drugs. As a result vultures are twice as likely to be globally threatened as are raptors in general.

Except for the California Condor, the most endangered vultures occur in the Old World.  In southern Asia three previously abundant species of vultures (the White-rumped Vulture, Indian Vulture, and Slender-billed Vulture) have undergone catastrophic declines of more than 99% during the past 25 years because of the widespread use of a veterinary drug that is toxic to vultures that feed on the carcasses of treated livestock.

In Africa five species of vultures (the Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Ruppell’s Vulture, White-headed Vulture, and Lappet-faced Vulture) are now seriously threatened as well, largely due to both accidental and purposeful poisoning. 

Hawk Mountain's study aims to monitor New World vultures so we can detect potential declines and threats earlier on. Our work is helping us to understand more about these species and their seasonal movements, and at the same time provide the conservation community with an early warning system to avert similar problems.

Swarovski