Turkey Vulture Collaboration with Coastal Raptors

Posted on November 06, 2018 in Science

In June, Hawk Mountain partnered with Coastal Raptors, a non-profit based out of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, with the goal of deploying transmitters on four turkey vultures.

Traps were established in three locations: a local airport, in the backyard of Coastal Raptor’s Executive Director Dan Varland, and on an expansive beach. The latter provided opportunity for unique views as well as unexpected carcass finds. A dogfish shark and Steller sea lion made their way into several traps, surprising the team with their effectiveness (and distinctly marine stench). After four days, the goal was reached! Dan Varland worked with Sanctuary biologist Dr. Jean-Francois Therrien and several volunteers to successfully attract and tag the four vultures: Artful Dodger, Grayland, Airy, and Coy.

Following tagging, the bird’s movements were monitored, and on August 5 the team discovered that Airy had ceased transmitting. However, the others have surprised all with their long distance migrations. As of October 22, all three were near Guadalajara and Mexico City.

These tracks highlight the incredible journeys that these under-appreciated birds are capable of, adding depth to the understanding of their annual cycle. In addition, successful partnerships with organizations such as Coastal Raptors further Hawk Mountain's reach and provide insight into the big picture of migration. See for yourself: