Don't you love the flintstones...they has a pet Taradactal - remember? Here is one of my favorite Birds of Prey...the Vulture. Yes they are a protected bird by Federal Laws, they fall under the Bird of Prey Migratory Bird act. They are the perfect example of a bird form that still looks like it never evolved from thousands of years ago until today. Yes even with that crazy looking exterior which looks scary to some, they are a protected bird. You can't do anything harmful to these "day time street sweepers". But then why would you? Well some people in my "hood" don't like them. Yes another opportunity for me to "educate" someone on where they fit in the food chain and why they are so necessary for road "clean up"; keeping disease down, and well worth having as part of our "circle of animals" that keep this eco system balanced. Besides, they are a super cool looking bird, and funny to boot. Here is one eating a squirrel for breakfast. By the way...it was already dead!
Did you know:
- That vultures are found on every continent except in Antarctia.
- Research shows that the bare skin on their head may play an important role in thermoregulation (a term you hear more often when referring to reptiles)
- A group of vultures is occasionally called a venue, and when circling in the air a group of vultures is called a kettle (take that to your next cocktail party!)
- Several species including the culture has a good sense of smell, unusual for most other raptors and are able to smell the dead they focus upon from great heights (see this big girl knew what she was doing!)
- Vultures seldom attack healthy animals, but may kill the wounded or sick - another reason they are important to our ecosystem. Did you know that vultures have been seen in famous paintings around battlefields throught history.
- They gorge themselves when prey is abundant, till their crop bulges, and sit, sleepy or half torpid, to digest their food (what a life). They also don't bring food in their mouth or talons to babies, they disgorge it from the crop to feed their young
- They can eat things which most animals might die from. For example, the Botulinum toxin, that which causes botulism does not effect them. Actually they can eat rotten flesh containing anthrax and cholera baterias. And the vulture is not only a winged cleaning agent, they are smart. When food is presented that is too thick for its beak to open, it waits for a larger scavenger to eat first.
- Still this is not to say that many of our environmental substances and pollution have not made it's impact on our wildlife. They are still exposed to toxins which can kill them from the land, air and water. FOr example, because of all the poisons and toxins used in processing and manufacturing plants in India and South Asia, some species are almost extinct. Here is a interesting fact on how the circle of life works....because of the decline in vultures in these regions, both areas have been challenged with hygiene problems. In India as carcasses of dead animals now tend to rot, or be eaten by rats and wild dogs rather than be tidied up by vultures. Rabies among these other scavengers is a major health threat. India has one of the world's highest incidences of rabies.
Take the time to learn more about these wonderful animals, and celebrate their presence - appreciate their service to us and the environment. Do your part...keep the earth clean for everyone. Learn from the vultures.