Researchers, noting increases in vulture populations in the Manaus area of the Central Amazon in Brazil, were prompted in 2012 to investigate the reasons behind the vultures’ attraction to certain areas. The research was motivated by increasing encounters between vultures and humans in urban areas.
The Wilson Journal of Ornithology reported that vultures were concentrated around thermal power plants and were using the artificial thermals generated as a source of lift. Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures were observed utilising the industrial heat to efficiently gain height and help their flight; the rising warm currents of air allow the birds to fly at high altitudes without the need to flap their wings, therefore economising energy. The vultures also benefited from the unnaturally warm air currents that arise from the steam-powered plants by boosting their elevation.
Applicants for Biological Sciences or Biological Natural Sciences may be interested to analyse the habits of these vultures further, noting the times of day when this behaviour is particularly common. Applicants for Geography or Land Economy may note the implications for town planning; not only are vultures a problem to individuals, but they also pose a threat to aeroplanes flying overhead and this may be addressed by carefully considering the locations of new thermal power plants and flight paths.