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Vulture Tags


We are one of several entities conducting research evaluating the movements of wing-tagged vultures. Each tagged bird affiliated with our studies has a cattle ear tag in its RIGHT wing and each tag has a letter and number (e.g., F47 or C20) or a series of 3 letters (e.g., AMJ).  Currently, we are using white, yellow, and pink tags.  Over time, these colors may change due to bird activity or fading, and may appear pale yellow or orange.  Other studies may be using wing-tags of other colors.

The tags we use have two sides:  a large tag on the outside of the wing and a smaller tag on the underside of the wing (both bearing the same ID code).  The smaller tags on the underside may be visible from below while the birds soar. The purpose of tagging is to collect information on the birds to see where they move and how the birds interact with the local environment. We also use satellite and GSM telemetry where we put transmitters on some birds to study their migration patterns and use of airspace (i.e., how high they fly, how far they travel).

The USGS Bird Banding Lab, located in Patuxent, MD, is responsible for maintaining the central database for marked/tagged birds in North America

As such, first and foremost, please report all tagged vultures you see to the Bird Banding Lab using their online report form at:

If you suspect the tagged vulture is a bird affiliated with our studies and wish to provide additional information (beyond the data you reported to USGS), please reach out to John Humphrey using the contact information below.  We welcome additional comments, notes about vulture activity, and information pertaining to the condition of tags and backpack transmitters.  We are especially interested in encounters of dead vultures fitted with backpack transmitters.

John S Humphrey
Wildlife Biologist
USDA/APHIS/WS/National Wildlife Research Center
2820 E University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32641
(352) 375-2229
Email: John.S.Humphrey@

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