LIVE: International Vulture Awareness Day
You can see these extraordinary creatures soaring high all over the metro -- but we got to see one up close and personal.
This time of year, if you’re lucky, you might look up to the sky to spot a huge, majestic, dark-winged bird circling above the metro near the riverfront. And chances are, you’ll assume it’s an eagle.
Chances are, it’s actually a turkey vulture, one of the most maligned and misunderstood animals in the region.
Vultures are scavengers, meat-eaters which feed on the carcasses of dead animals that would otherwise be left to rot and spread disease within the Red River Valley’s ecosystem.
There are plenty of other animals that will eat carrion, but the vulture’s unique digestive system has a bonus for us and for the environment — it destroys all kinds of diseases left lurking in dead animals.
Anthrax. Leprosy. Botulism. All mere seasoning to the vulture, which helpfully gobbles up all those nasty microorganisms that would otherwise spread through the world and our population, sickening and wiping us out.
Even more amazing is their incredible ability to ride the air currents, soaring for many minutes at a time without ever once having to flap their wings.
These glorious flyers and feasters may be intimidating-looking, but up close and personal they’re surprisingly elegant — and in the case of Steve, good-natured.
Steve, a turkey vulture from the Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, joined the Morning Show’s Emily Welker with zoo curator Tom Schmaltz for a live in-studio appearance to talk about International Vulture Awareness Day, which is this Saturday, September 7th.
If you’ve never thought about these fascinating feathered friends, or even if you’re afraid of them, check out the video and the related links.
And give a hand to Steve in his first-ever live TV appearance. He did an amazing job!