Carrion birds

Carrion birds are those birds of prey, whose diet includes varying proportions of other animals’ carcasses.
Some species, such as vultures (bearded vulture, griffon vulture, cinereous vulture and Egyptian vulture), are carrion birds in the stricter sense, whereas others are only partially considered carrion-eaters, as they also feed on live preys (golden eagle, red and black kite, etc.).
Carrion birds are especially vulnerable to poison, because they may feed on the carcasses of poisoned animals; some may even directly spot and eat small poison baits scattered to kill foxes, wolves and mustelids.
Several species are in the habit of feeding together at a carcass, once they have spotted one: this makes them particularly vulnerable, and often subject to mass killing.
Therefore, birds of prey are almost always “collateral victims” of poison use, which mostly targets predator mammals posing a threat to livestock or game.
However, birds of prey are sometimes the direct target of poison, for instance in the case of Bonelli’s eagles, one of the most endangered birds of prey. This elegant eagle is often persecuted by man, including through the use of poison, because of its diet, as it mostly feeds on game such as wild rabbits and red-legged partridges. In Italy, Bonelli’s eagles now nest only in few Sicilian areas.
Populations of birds of prey are unfortunately small in Italy, and GPS-monitoring programmes are only seldom carried out: this makes it unlikely that possible carcasses are found, and that the impact of poison on their populations is quantified.

  • Immagine 1
  • Cinereous and griffon vultures at a feeding station (“carnaio”)
  • Immagine 2
  • Bonelli’s eagle, a bird of prey that is seriously endangered by poison and other human persecutions
  • Immagine 3
  • Poisoned golden eagle
  • Immagine 4
  • Egyptian vulture at a feeding station
  • Immagine 5
  • Lazaros, an Egyptian vulture that survived a poisoning episode in Greece, but died after a second one
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