Posted by: greentangle | November 15, 2021


Vultures of the World by Keith Bildstein, to be published March 2022

It was interesting to me that the book was inspired by a visit to a raptor migration site, because I live a few miles from a different site where a couple thousand turkey vultures are counted in spring and fall migrations.

Each of the 23 vulture species has a section including descriptions and basics of life to the extent known, as well as their endangered status. There are general chapters on basic ecology, pair formation and reproduction, food location and feeding behavior, movement and social behaviors, and how vultures and humans affect each other. Each section ends with a recap of its main points.

There is plentiful information on turkey vultures (the most common vulture in the U.S. and easily identifiable when flying) and black vultures and California condors since they’re most studied species. But did you know there’s also a vulture which does not eat mostly meat? It’s the palm-nut vulture! Or that vultures are not banded in North America because of their practice of defecating on their legs (for cooling and/or antiseptic reasons)? Or that sky burials in parts of Asia involve vultures eating human corpses (I’ve always wanted my body to become food for wildlife)? There are many of these fascinating facts in the book.

The major threats to vultures are loss of habitat, feeding off poisoned animals (deliberately killed wildlife, pesticides, lead ammunition, veterinary drugs, etc.), and being shot or otherwise deliberately targeted. Additional problems include trash, electricity, aircraft, climate change. Yes, as for most animals, the biggest threat is people.

The book concludes with a lengthy glossary, references, and index. 23 color photos to be included in the finished book were not part of the advance copy, but I assume there is one for each of the vulture species. The book is written more for the general public than most books of its type, and is thus more enjoyable while still presenting the facts.

Thanks to Cornell University Press and NetGalley for an advance copy to review.

In the spirit of vulture recycling, I’ll include a couple turkey vulture photos taken at the Bozeman REI ten years ago.

2011_0312bozemanraptors0078 (2)

2011_0312bozemanraptors0080 (2)


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