Friday, September 4, 2009

Don't forget to celebrate Vulture Awareness Day!

I've seen it mentioned here and there, but tomorrow is Vulture Awareness Day. Hat tip to Cool Green Science for this one:

Consider celebrating by stocking your feeders with carrion (which reminds me of several bad jokes, but I’ll put those at the end), cruising your local highways for road kill (aka, vulture food), or just getting out and observing these magnificent animals.

n the northern parts of North America, we have three species of vultures:
  • The most common and widespread is the Turkey Vulture, which can be found pretty much across the lower 48 U.S. states and southern Canada.
  • In the southeastern United States is the Black Vulture which, oddly enough, though very common just south of the U.S. border in Mexico, is very rarely found in border states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
  • The third species is the endangered California Condor, reintroduced populations of which now exist in California, Arizona, and northern Baja California, Mexico.

Vulture species diversity increases as one moves south into Mexico and Central and South America, where we find the Andean Condor, King Vulture, and the Lesser and Greater Yellow-headed Vultures.

Two interesting factoids about vultures before I let you go and enjoy them:

  • First, worldwide, vultures are an intriguing example of convergent evolution. The New World vultures (which I’ve listed above) share similar diets, behaviors, and even appearance to the Old World vultures (e.g., Lappet-faced Vulture), but the two groups are not related taxonomically.
  • Second, many vultures in North America, particularly Turkey Vultures from the western states and provinces, are highly migratory. In fact, Turkey Vultures are one of the most numerous migrating species of raptor at the famed Veracruz River of Raptors hawk migration site in Veracruz, Mexico.

And don't forget - they vomit on themselves to scare away predators - kind of like those old fraternity parties back at school.

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