Audubon has a fun competition going on right now, called "Birding the Net." Participants collect birds which are found on various participating sites around the web. On a special Facebook app, contestants can tally their totals and trade for needed birds with their friends. You can even find some right here on Birdorable!
(click to enlarge)
Here are some hints to get you started. Birdorable birds like to make friends. Roseate Spoonbill is particularly friendly (see above) - but Black-crested Titmouse and Northern Saw-whet Owl also like to meet new birdie pals. We like to meet new friends too, and to hear from our fans! You can learn more about the campaign in the official Audubon press release. The contest ends November 7th. Have fun Birding the Web - we are!
We at Birdorable are proud to have provided use of our cute Andean Cock-of-the-rock image to The Field Museum's 24th rapid inventory team that traveled to the Kampankis mountains of Peru this summer. A few months ago, we were kindly contacted by one of the conservation biologists working on the survey. We were asked if our Andean Cock-of-the-rock could be used for the team's t-shirt, and we were happy to comply! The survey was done in northern Peru, in an area where Andean Cocks-of-the-rock are abundant. Below is a photo of some of the team members when they recently arrived in Tarapoto after the survey. If you look closely, you'll find at least five Birdorables in the photo!
These surveys are huge team efforts and entail adventure and discovery. For example, the above photograph was taken during an earthquake after a multi-day weather delay. If you'd like to learn more about the high adventure and about the fascinating work done during the rapid survey of the Kampankis mountains, check out the rapid inventories of remote regions blog.
Today we introduce a new Birdorable bird, the Cape Vulture, in honor of International Vulture Awareness Day. Like many vulture species across the globe, the Cape Vulture is in trouble, designated as a Vulnerable species by BirdLife International. The total population is estimated at between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals.
The Tusk Trust has a Cape Vulture Conservation Project in place to help these birds in trouble in South Africa. The Project includes monitoring with GPS tracking devices and an education campaign. Visit the Tusk website to learn more about this project and how you can help. International Vulture Awareness Day is a global event designed to raise awareness and promote conservation of vultures. Visit the IVAD website to see which organizations are participating. There may just be an event near you! And be sure to check out our unique selection of Cape Vulture gift ideas!
Back in June we introduced the Birdorable Tree Sparrow. The Eurasian Tree Sparrow is a small passerine bird related the the House Sparrow. Tree Sparrows live across much of Europe and Asia, although numbers are declining in some parts of western Europe.
Tree Sparrows are unfortunately on the decline in the United Kingdom - up to 50% in some areas. Research is being done to determine the cause of the decline as well as track current successful sparrow habitat and breeding grounds. Sightings of Tree Sparrows can be submitted to researchers online at TreeSparrows.com. The website's newsletter provides updated information on the research project and national sightings. Swag to show your support is also available.
Yes, vultures can be cute - our Birdorable vultures prove just that! Although vultures may be known for eating dead things, using projectile vomit as a defense measure and even cooling themselves by urinating on their own legs, these carrion-eating baldies aren't all about the ick-factor. For example:
- The Egyptian Vulture is one of the few species of bird to use tools. It will lift small rocks in its beak and smash them into ostrich eggs to crack the hard shell. Clever birds!
- While Lammergeiers don't use tools, they do have a clever way to get at their favorite food. They will drop large bones while flying in order to crack them into pieces. With clever strategies like that, who needs tools?!
- Several vulture species lack vocal organs so they are only able to hiss or grunt. No screaming banshees here!
- Several species including the Turkey Vulture are extremely gregarious. Birds will roost in large community groups which may include several hundred individuals. The vulture's motto: We Are Fa-mi-ly!
- California Condors are especially fastidious and may spend hours a day preening their feathers. Beauty queens!
- Courting Turkey Vultures will gather in a circle to perform hopping movements around the perimeter, with wings spread. Yes, they put on the dance moves to attract a sweetheart!
- The Rüppell's Vulture holds the height record for avian flight, with the ability to fly up to an altitude of 37,000 feet. These birds have their place in the avian extreme games!
- Vultures often remain inactive until the sun has warmed up the air with sufficient thermals to support soaring. These sleepyheads need the sun to get going on their day's work. I know some people like that!
- The Palm-nut Vulture is so named because its favorite food is the nut of the Oil Palm tree. A veg-loving vulture!
- The Cinereous Vulture is also known as the Monk Vulture, because its ruff of neck feathers resembles a monk's cowl. Even vultures get funny nicknames.
- Often vultures gorge so much they can’t fly. Vultures know how to pig out, and they aren't afraid to do it!
- The Turkey Vulture can glide for over six hours without flapping a wing. Another extreme avian sports contender, category: endurance.
- California Condors and several other vulture species mate for life. How romantic!
- The Hooded Vulture is abundant through most of its range and is usually unafraid of humans. They are sometimes called "garbage collectors" by locals. In fact all vultures are nature's original waste managers!
- Like many wildlife species vultures have suffered from loss of habitat and illegal hunting. Several vulture species have suffered up to a 99% population decrease in India and neighboring countries due to poisoning from livestock pharmaceuticals.
That last trivia point is not actually one of our favorites, but it is an unfortunate fact. Today is International Vulture Awareness Day 2009, which promotes vulture conservation. This post is part of the Blog for Vultures carnival coinciding with IVAD09. Learn more about vultures, vulture conservation and awareness by visiting the other participants in today's virtual event. Click on the nifty badge below to learn more!