Turkey Vultures are one of the most widely distributed carrion feeders throughout the Americas. We analyzed their regurgitated pellets from two localities in the Atacama Desert of Chile. Natural foods included dogs, sea lions, and feathers present in 17% of the pellets. We also found that 78% of pellets from coastal sites and 83% of pellets from inland sites contained plastic material. Plastic was likely ingested because vultures scavenge in plastic bags disposed as garbage along roads and beaches. Plastic ingestion has been documented in marine birds but only occasionally in raptors. Seabirds are vulnerable to the effects of ingested plastics because of their inability to regurgitate this material. Although vultures can regurgitate plastic, we do not know the physiological effects related to ingestion of the material. The availability of food from garbage bags could partly explain the widespread distribution of these vultures in the desert, but the inclusion of these items in their diet likely provides little to no energy. Turkey Vultures patrol roads in search of animals hit by vehicles, which facilitates finding carrion and garbage. Garbage in plastic bags has increased as more roads have been built in these areas; in the future, it will be important to study the effects of ingested plastics on these birds.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.