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lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010 19:58

Vultures of southern USA

The photographers ignore them, the locals do not like them either, they are not overly beautiful birds but they are irreplaceable helpers – nature cleaners. Who do we talk about? About Vultures, raptors that you can see very often when you visit southern states of USA.

 

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), California, USA

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It is actually not precise localization – while Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) resides mostly in South America and southern states of USA, Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) that can easily be distinguished due to its red head and beak occur in a broad range from the southern part of Canada to the southernmost tip of South America.

 

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), Florida, USA

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It may seem, that New World Vultures are relatives to Old World Vultures – the raptors of Europe, Africa and Asia but it is not exactly the case. Both groups evolved simultaneously and independently – today both are classified into the order of Accipitriformes (Birds of prey) but it is quite interesting that some researchers classified them into the order of Ciconiiformes (Storks).

 

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), Fort Desoto, Florida, USA

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IMG_5171PSOne of the differences between New World Vultures and Old World Vultures is the delicate sense of smell of some of the New World Vultures – it is especially the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) who can smell and detect very low concentrations of gases from decaying meat for long distances and find a carcass in a dense underbrush of a tropical forest. The Old World Vultures have not smell abilities so they have to use their sight to find the prey. IMG_4739PS This is very similar to american Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) who uses sight but also it very often follows Turkey Vultures to steal their meal. The Turkey Vultures usually forage individually and it happens very often that they are stolen their prey by a group of Black Vultures although these birds are smaller than Turkey Vultures. A little different sort of mutual dependence between the species has been observed between the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) and King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)King Vulture also follows Turkey Vulture who is able to find smelling prey, then the King Vulture takes over and tears through the skin into the flesh and thus enables the access to the food to Turkey Vulture who would otherwise be unable to cut through the thick tissue with its weaker beak.

 

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

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A few interesting facts at the end

1D3_3048PS The New World Vultures does not have the voice organ – syrinx, so these birds only make sounds like hissing and granting, especially when in danger.

Both species gather in large group to roost – they like trees and other elevated perches. Vulture droppings are quite danger – not only that it can contaminate water sources with danger bacteria but it sometimes deadens the tree they roost on.

IMG_4670PSVultures similarly to Cormorants or Anhingas pose with wings wide open during the sunny days – it is thought that they do so to heat up in the morning, to dry up their feathering and maybe also to bake off the parasites.

In some places Vultures are known to tear off the windshields and rubber sealing on the cars. Some people think that the Vultures simply try out if that might be edible but some think that they just get bored while they wait in the morning to the air to get warmed up and simply hang around and help the time pass by this activity.

 

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

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When I was taking pictures of Black Vultures on the famous Anhinga Trail in Everglades in Florida I have heard a little girl behind me talking to her mother: „Those are so awful birds...nobody likes these birds!“ Well, maybe these birds are not beautiful but they are doctors of the nature. The nature could be quite danger place without them…
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Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:33
 
Comments (45)
  • aLe

    another great work!!!

  • Emma Verxn  - Emma

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