Monday, January 28, 2013
Costa Rica's Vultures.... so prevalent they could be the National Bird!
Field marks: Large, heavy-bodied, carrion-eating, black bird, with short tail and broad plank-like wings tipped with white. Wingspan: 5' Length: 2'-2'4" W-L ratio: 2.3:1 Weight: 4.5-6 lbs
Field marks: Large, dark brown, heavy-bodied and small-headed, carrion-eating bird, with a longish tail and two-toned underwings. Wings held above the horizontal in a strong “V.” Wingspan: 5'6" Length: 2'2"-2'8" W-L ratio: 2.4:1 Weight: 3.5-5 lbs
Black and Turkey Vulture Factoids:
• Black & Turkey Vultures belong to the family Cathartidae, a group of 7 species of New World Vultures.
• Black Vultures, rarely flap in flight using broad plank-like wings that allow them to soar in small wind thermals.
• Black Vultures search for carrion exclusively by sight, often following Turkey Vulture’s to take advantage of these bird's acute sense of smell to find food.
• Black & Turkey Vultures sometimes take live prey.
• Black & Turkey Vultures usually roost together in family units.
• Black Vultures nest on the ground and on the floors of abandoned buildings.
• The range of Black Vultures has been expanding northwards since the 1950s.
• Most scientists now believe Turkey vultures and Black vultures are more closely related to storks than to other raptors.
• Turkey Vultures get their name from their red, featherless heads resembling Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo).
• Turkey Vultures may be more closely related to storks than other raptors.
• Turkey Vultures are the most migratory of all of the New World Vultures.
• The Turkey Vulture’s plumage is dark brown, not black.
• When flying, Turkey Vultures, hold their wings in a “V” above their backs, creating a slight dihedral that stabilizes their flight.
• Turkey Vultures often roost in groups of several hundred birds.
• Turkey Vultures communicate vocally in hisses and grunts.
• Nestling Turkey Vultures projectile vomit to defend themselves.
• Turkey Vultures have weak feet, and are unable to carry off their carrion.
This is so exciting, please tell me more Vulture Facts!
Along with the Turkey Vulture, the Black Vulture is one of the most abundant New World vultures. Prevalent in North America, vultures also breed throughout Central
Black Vultures have featherless dark gray to black heads and necks and are ugly as hell. They appear completely black when perched, however obvious white patches near
Unlike the Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures prefer open and forested habitats, typically avoiding urban and suburban areas. In the Americas, both species breed in farmlands, rangelands, forests, and low-elevation mountains. Generally, it only eats the skin and harder parts of the tissue of its meal. Vultures are monogamous and pairs
Black Vultures are dirty little opportunistic aerial scavengers. Feeding on carrion of all types and sizes, unlike the Turkey Vultures, this species does not have a keen sense of smell and relies entirely on visuals to locate food. Black Vultures
Less Common Vultures of Costa Rica
The King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) is a colorful large bird found in Central and South America. This vulture lives predominantly in tropical lowland forests stretching
Ecology and behavior
The King Vulture can soar effortlessly for hours, only flapping its wings on occasion. While in flight, they hold their wings flat only slightly raising the tips, holding their small heads low, they often appear headless while in flight. These vultures have also been observed engaging in tandem flight which is thought to be a
The reproductive behavior of the King Vulture in the wild is poorly known. From
Because of its large size and beauty, the King Vulture is an attraction at zoos around the world and is a popular photo opportunity when spotted around Costa Rica.
So there you have it! Most everything you ever wanted or didn't want to know about Vultures! Those majestic birds you've been watching fly around your Costa Rica Hotel or Costa Rica Vacation Rental Home each day, may actually have been disgusting flesh eating Vultures! Ew, that's gross! If truth be told though, these birds can actually be quite friendly and comical acting. Some have no fear to waddle right up to your feet if you leave them some fresh food. Besides, there is no arguing that these beasts serve their purpose in the food chain and natural ecology by providing a natural cleaning up of disgusting road kill. So people!! Let's embrace this important species and thank Mother Nature for the vultures!
Okay, so maybe we aren't quite ready to make them the National Bird yet, but have you ever seen Costa Rica's National Bird? Beyond it's beautiful song, it's not particularly impressive! Pura vida!!
Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.