We're celebrating Vulture Week because this Saturday, September 5th, marks International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD). This commemorative day has been celebrated since at least 2009 and aims to highlight the importance of vultures and vulture conservation through education.
Today we'd like to share four brand new vulture-themed coloring pages with you! All of our coloring pages are free to download and are perfect for nature centers, zoos, and other environmental education locations and events surrounding International Vulture Awareness Day.
Our cute cartoon Andean Condor is featured along with big and bold letters, all ready to color on our Condor Coloring Page. This cute and colorful condor design is also availalbe for purchase on t-shirts and other gift items.
Brand new for this year is our New World Vultures Coloring Page. The seven New World vulture species are standing together in this new design which will be available on t-shirts and gifts later this Vulture Week.
Remember that we have all of the world's vultures on their own coloring pages, which you can find on our special Birdorable Vultures Page. In addition to all of the coloring pages, you can find vulture-themed activity pages for free downloading as well, including connect-the-dots images, a vulture maze to solve, a fun vulture memory game, and more.
It's that time of year once again -- time to celebrate the world's vulture species. The first Saturday in September marks International Vulture Awareness Day and to honor this event we are going to be talking about vultures on our blog all week long!
To start off the week, here are some vulture highlights from last year's Vulture Week celebrations.
And finally, we ended last year's Vulture Week with some vulture humor.
Join us this week as we highlight the world's vulture species, vulture biology and other fun vulture topics in the coming days! We're excited to gear up to celebrate another International Vulture Awareness Day!
They don't really have eye "balls" like humans and other animals. Instead, owl eyes tend to be more tube-shaped. Their elongated eyes are held in place by bones in the skull. Owl eyes are also relatively enormous when compared with human eyes. If a Great Horned Owl were the same size as a human, its eyes would be as large as a pair of oranges. In some owl species, the weight of the eyes accounts for up to five percent of the total weight of the bird.
Because of the shape of an owl's eyes, the bird is unable to move the eyes inside their head. They have to turn their heads around in order to look around. An owl can turn its head about 270 degrees, or about 3/4 of the way around. There are some special adaptations in owl anatomy that allow them to turn their heads so far, including extra vertebrae in the neck, and different blood vessels that keep blood flowing between the head and body.
Unlike many other bird species, owls have forward-facing eyes. This makes them appear more human-like than other birds and may contribute to their general popularity among people. Compare the forward-facing eyes on the Great Grey Owl's face to that of the American Bittern below.
Great Grey Owl by Rolf B. [CC BY-SA 2.0]
American Bittern by Amy Evenstad for Birdorable
Many owl species are nocturnal, but owls can see perfectly fine in the daylight as well as at night. Because of their excellent night vision, their pupils don't retract as much as in humans. Closing their eyelids halfway or more helps keep the bright light from hurting their eyes. This also gives owls the appearance of being sleepy in daylight, when in fact they may be fully awake and alert.
Owls have three sets of eyelids. Upper and lower eyelids close when the owl blinks or sleeps. A third, semi-transparent lid, called a nictitating membrane, closes diagonally across the eye. This thin layer of tissue is used to keep the eyes clean and to protect the eye while still allowing for some vision. You can see this membrane partially closed in the photo of a Barred Owl below.
Barred Owl with nictitating membrane visible by Philo Nordlund [CC BY 2.0]
We've recently added the Pink Cockatoo to Birdorable as our 616th species and our 94th parrot species. This pretty bird is also commonly known as the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo.
Parrots are known for their longevity, and one particular famous Major Mitchell's Cockatoo recently celebrated his 82nd hatchday. Cookie is a handsome male bird who has lived at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo since the zoo opened in 1934.
Cookie was hatched on June 30, 1933, in his native Australia. The Guinness Book of Records recognizes Cookie as the oldest living parrot; the average lifespan for Major Mitchell's Cockatoos in captivity is 40-60 years. Cookie has smashed this record by a significant margin.
Here is video of Cookie's latest birthday celebration, which took place at Brookfield Zoo.
The tanagers are a family of songbirds found across the Americas. These small birds tend to be colorful; often males are more brightly plumaged than females.
Tanagers in name only? There are four species of tanager found in North America. These are the Western Tanager, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, and Hepatic Tanager. They are in the genus Piranga and are thought to be closely related to cardinals; they may not belong in the tanagers' Thraupidae family at all.
Colorful Across the Americas In total there are over 200 species of tanager. Most are found in tropical habitats, and many species have relatively small native ranges. For example, the Green-headed Tanager is found along a narrow strip extending from southeast Brazil down into southeastern Paraguay and northeast Argentina.
Western Tanager by Pacific Southwest Region USFWS [CC BY 2.0]
Western is Most North North America's Western Tanager is notable for being the northern-mostranging species of tanager. This migratory species breeds as far north as Canada's Northwest Territories. They spend the winters in Central America.
Hepatic: I'm Huge in South America In the United States, the Hepatic Tanager is only found as a breeding bird in the southwestern mountains. However, the species has a very large native range and many birds are permanent residents across a large portion of South America.
Summer's Pretty Song Most tanagers are not known for their pretty song, but the Summer Tanager is an exception. It sings a melodic tune that reminds many of the American Robin's song.
Scarlet Tanager by Kelly Colgan Azar [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Cowbird's Target The Scarlet Tanager is particularly susceptible to brood parasitism from Brown-headed Cowbirds. Being forest nesters, they never developed a strategy against the rogue-nesting cowbirds. Segmented habitat (due to human developement) means tanagers more often nest near open habitats favored by cowbirds, rather than deep inside old-growth forests where cowbirds rarely occur.
Ripe Old Age The longevity record for wild Western Tanagers is nearly seven years; for wild Summer Tanagers it is nearly eight years; and for wild Scarlet Tanagers the record is nearly twelve years. These records were collected via bird banding.
This week's featured t-shirt is a brand-new baby product that was recently added to our store: this adorable Baby Football Bodysuit featuring our Birdorable Loggerhead Kingbird. This beautiful bird can be found on the Caribbean islands, including the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and sometimes in the United States. This is a great gift for future birders.