International Vulture Awareness Day – and Some Owls

The weather today is distinctly unsummery, fittingly, as it’s the beginning of the Autumn term and I’m back to work with a vengeance.

Apparently today is Vulture Awareness Day, so I’m going to share some sketches I did over the summer at Gauntlet Birds of Prey, Eagle and Vulture Park in Knutsford.  Only one is of a vulture, because they’re a lot harder to draw from life than owls – they don’t tend to keep still!

Black Vulture Sketch
Black Vulture Sketch

Vultures are often perceived in a pretty negative way, but they perform a vital role in cleaning up carrion that would otherwise be a breeding ground for disease.  However, vulture populations are declining worldwide, with decreases of 97% for some species in  South Asia and West Africa over the last two or three decades.  The most significant causes seem to be the deliberate poisoning of carcasses, often by poachers (in Africa) and the use of the banned veterinary drug Diclofenac (in South Asia).  Traces of this drug in recently treated cattle are lethal for vultures.  The consequences of vulture decline in India include drinking water being contaminated by rotting carcasses and an increase in feral dogs, which spread serious diseases such as rabies, anthrax and plague.

Many different organisations across the world are trying to help endangered vultures.  If you are interested in donating, SAVE, standing for Save Asia’s Vultures from Extinction, is a consortium of some of these organisations (including RSPB and WWF).

Snowy Owl and European Eagle Owl sketch
Snowy Owl and European Eagle Owl

I also sketched some owls and a Marabou stork at Gauntlet, as you can see above and below.  If you’d like to see some of my finished colour drawings of owls, there are some in my Etsy Shop – both originals and prints.

Unidentified owl (!), Marabou Stork, Barn Owl and Boobook Owl
Unidentified owl (!), Marabou Stork, Barn Owl and Boobook Owl

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