This family-friendly event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes a scavenger hunt, crafts, learning stations, and a chance to meet Ruby, the Audubon Society of Portland’s turkey vulture. The popular “Upchuck Chuck” activity will also make a return appearance at this year’s celebration – kids learn how vultures use vomit to defend themselves from predators at this interactive station. All activities will take place at Audubon’s main campus at 5151 NW Cornell Road, Portland, Ore.
Besides being caretakers of the planet, vultures are also seen as ecological sentinels – their populations usually reflect the health of an entire ecosystem. Unfortunately, vulture populations around the globe are falling at sharp rates. Scientists estimate the number of vultures in the world has declined by 50 percent in the past 15 years.
One major challenge vultures face is habitat loss. As human populations grow, nesting areas and food sources for the birds shrink. Vultures are also hunted for sport and their body parts are used in some traditional folk medicines. Some vulture species’ populations have plummeted because the birds eat the remains of animals shot with lead ammunition, ingesting fragments of ammunition along with the carcasses. Possibly the most drastic downturn has occurred in Asia, where vultures eat dead work cattle that have been medicated with the anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac. Vultures are sensitive to this drug and are severely sickened or killed when they consume it.
International Vulture Awareness Day was originally organized by the Bird of Prey Working Group in South Africa, the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England and other partner organizations. The day’s aim is to create awareness of the plight of all vulture species worldwide and to highlight the work done by conservationists who monitor vulture populations and take steps to conserve the birds and their habitat.
Founded in 1902, Portland Audubon is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the nation. It promotes the understanding, enjoyment and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats through its conservation and environmental education programs, its 150-acre Nature Sanctuary and Nature Store in northwest Portland, and its Wildlife Care Center.
For more information, call 503-292-6855 or visit www.audubonportland.org.