January 28, 2015

Hawk Mountain announces new learning tool for young people

Book by Deb Toor focuses on vultures

Buy the book now

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary has announced a new educational tool for teachers and their students, Survival Secrets of Turkey Vultures, a book designed for 9- to 11-year-olds and written by non-fiction author Deborah Toor with assistance and review by Hawk Mountain scientist Jean-Francois Therrien and Director of Education Erin Brown. The suspense-adventure story is based upon peer-reviewed science, and combines facts from field research, including Hawk Mountain’s own study of New World vultures.

“I am always surprised by the number of people who don't know about New World vultures or the issues facing vultures worldwide,” says the author. “There are many dedicated organizations who are working hard to educate the public about their value.”

Hawk Mountain agrees and has been studying the species since 2003 as part of a long-term and far-ranging study of scavenging raptors in the New World, and a more recent study of the endangered hooded vulture in Africa, where vulture species are facing catastrophic drops. Such population declines have brought attention to the value of vultures as nature’s clean-up crew, and the importance of a species that helps to purify ecosystems and prevent the spread of disease.

Survival Secrets of Turkey Vultures follows the story of a mother turkey vulture on a hunt to feed her two-day-old chicks. Along the way, readers discover what appears to be a disadvantage when competing for food. For example, the vulture lacks swift aerial moves, talons that stab, and jaws that crush. It can’t defend against attacks, kill prey, or hunt without thermals. But it also reveals the adaptations for survival, the strengths and surprising skill of the species, traits that are often overlooked.

Toor provides interesting vulture facts and classroom activities appropriate for grades 3 to 7 and a helpful author website where teachers and parents will find even more vulture activities and learning links, including a curriculum guide and visual glossary. While the book is short, it and the ancillary material pack a powerful learning punch.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and an international center for raptor conservation. Its 2,500-acre Sanctuary is open to the public year-round for hiking, wildlife observation and to enjoy the spring and fall raptor migrations. All fees, donations and membership dues support the raptor conservation mission at Hawk Mountain, including its local to global research, training, and education programs.

Alvin H. Butz, Inc