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Our Beautiful World

New World Vulture or Condor family, Cathartidae   



Young California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) ready for flight
Photo: Scott Frier
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


The New World Vulture or Condor family Cathartidae contains seven species in five genera, all but one of which are monotypic. It includes five vultures and two condors found in warm and temperate areas of the Americas.

New World vultures are not closely genetically related to the superficially similar family of Old World vultures;
similarities between the two groups are due to convergent evolution. Just how closely related they are is a matter of
debate .

Vultures are scavenging birds, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. New World vultures have a good sense
of smell, but Old World vultures find carcasses exclusively by sight. A particular characteristic of many vultures is a
bald head, devoid of feathers.

Genus Coragyps
Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus, in South America and north to US

Genus Cathartes
Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura, throughout the Americas to southern Canada
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Cathartes burrovianus, in South America and north to Mexico
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Cathartes melambrotus, in the Amazon Basin of tropical
South America

Genus Gymnogyps
California Condor, Gymnogyps californianus, in California. Formerly widespread in the
mountains of western North America.

Genus Vultur
Andean Condor, Vultur gryphus, in the Andes

Genus Sarcoramphus
King Vulture, Sarcoramphus papa, from Southern Mexico to northern Argentina

Artene er også beskrevet på norsk HER

 

Andean Condor, Vultur gryphus

 
foto: http://www.hawk-conservancy.org/priors/george.htm

The Andean Condor, Vultur gryphus, is a species of South American bird in the New World vulture family Cathartidae
and is the only member of the genus Vultur. Found in the Andes mountains and adjacent Pacific coasts of western
South America, it has the largest wingspan at 3.2 m of any land bird.


ARKive video - Andean condor - overview

Andean condor, Vultur gryphus - Overview
BBC Natural History Unit
http://www.arkive.org

It is a large black vulture with a ruff of white feathers surrounding the base of the neck and, especially in the male,
large white patches on the wings. The head and neck are nearly featherless, and are a dull red color, which may flush
and therefore change color in response to the bird's emotional state. In the male, there is a wattle on the neck and a
large, dark red comb or caruncle on the crown of the head. Unlike most birds of prey, the male is larger than the female.


It is a large black vulture with a ruff of white feathers surrounding the base of the neck and, especially in the male, large
white patches on the wings. The head and neck are nearly featherless, and are a dull red color, which may flush and
therefore change color in response to the bird's emotional state. In the male, there is a wattle on the neck and a large,
dark red comb or caruncle on the crown of the head. Unlike most birds of prey, the male is larger than the female.

The condor is primarily a scavenger, feeding on carrion. It prefers large carcasses, such as those of deer or cattle.
It reaches sexual maturity at five or six years of age and nests at elevations of up to 5,000 m , generally on inaccessible
rock ledges. One or two eggs are usually laid. It is one of the world's longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to
100 years old in captivity.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andean_Condor

The eco-tourism industry is booming. One hotspot in South Eastern Peru attracts over 40,000 visitors a year as it's one of the best places in world to practice birdspotting.

It seems though, that the sound of tourists talking is getting in the way of them seeing the full spectrum of species. Daniel Karp, Stanford University graduate and long-time birdspotter talked to Earth Beat about the impact that the noise from well-meaning birdwatchers is having on the birds' habitat.

Ecotourists who "ooh" and "aah" over the marvels of nature may be doing more harm than if they appreciated the animals silently. Some species, it turns out, become significantly more stressed by even quiet conversation.
http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/birdspotters-stress-out-peruvian-birds


King Vulture, Sarcoramphus papa


foto: http://www.chaffeezoo.org/zoo/animals/kngvultr.html

The King Vulture, Sarcoramphus papa, is a large bird found in Central and South America. It is a member of the New World vulture family Cathartidae. This vulture lives predominantly in tropical lowland forests stretching from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, though some believe that William Bartram's Painted Vulture of Florida may be of this species.



King Vulture 's habitat
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:King_Vulture.png

Large and predominantly white, the King Vulture has gray to black ruff, flight, and tail feathers. The head and neck are
bald, with the skin color varying, including yellow, orange, blue, purple, and red. The King Vulture has a very noticeable
yellow fleshy caruncle on its beak. This vulture is a scavenger and it often makes the initial cut into a fresh carcass.
It also displaces smaller New World vulture species from a carcass. King Vultures have been known to live for up to
30 years in captivity.

King Vultures were popular figures in the Mayan codices as well as in local folklore and medicine. Although currently
listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, they are decreasing in number, due primarily to habitat loss.


© www.arthurgrosset.com

The King Vulture inhabits an estimated 14 million km2 between southern Mexico and northern Argentina.
In South America, it does not live west of the Andes, except in western Ecuador, north-western Colombia and far
north-western Venezuela. It primarily inhabits undisturbed tropical lowland forests as well as savannas and grasslands
with these forests nearby. It is often seen near swamps or marshy places in the forests. This bird is often the most
numerous or only vulture present in primary lowland forests in its range, but in the Amazon rainforest it is typically
outnumbered by the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, while typically outnumbered by the Lesser Yellow-headed,
Turkey and American Black Vulture in more open habitats.

King Vultures generally do not live above 1500 m, although are found in places at 2500 m altitude east of the Andes,
and have been rarely recorded up to 3300 m. They inhabit the emergent forest level, or above the canopy.

 ARKive video - King vulture - overview
King Vulture , Sarcoramphus papa - Overview
BBC Natural History Unit
http://www.arkive.org

The King Vulture soars for hours effortlessly, only flapping its wings infrequently. While in flight, its wings are held flat
with slightly raised tips, and from a distance the vulture can appear to be headless while in flight. Its wing beats are deep
and strong.Birds have been observed engaging in tandem flight on two occasions in Venezuela by naturalist Marsha
Schlee, who has proposed it could be a part of courtship behaviour.



Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Cathartes melambrotus


© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Cathartes melambrotus, also known as the Forest Vulture, is a species of bird
in the New World Vulture family Cathartidae. It was considered to be the same species as the Lesser Yellow-headed
Vulture until they were split in 1964. It is found in South America in tropical moist lowland forests. It is a fairly large bird,
with a wingspan of 160–210 cm, a weight of 1.2 to 3.2 kilograms and a body length of 70–84 cm. The body plumage
is black, and the head and neck, which are featherless, range in color from deep yellow to pale orange. It lacks a syrinx,
and its vocalizations are therefore limited to grunts or low hisses.

The Greater Yellow-headed Vulture feeds on carrion and locates carcasses by sight and by smell, an ability which is
rare in birds. It is dependent on larger vultures, such as the King Vulture, to open the hides of larger animal carcasses,
as its bill is not strong enough to do this. Like other New World Vultures, the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture utilizes
thermals to stay aloft with minimal effort. It lays its eggs on flat surfaces, such as the floors of caves, or in the hollows
of stumps. It feeds its young by regurgitation.


© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Greater Yellow-headed Vulture roosts on high, exposed dead trees to observe surrounding terrain. When flying,
it travels in pairs or alone and is rarely found in groups. Flight is heavy and steady. It flies with its wings held flat or very
slightly above horizontal, in what is called the dihedral position. The flight of the Greater Yellow-Headed is an example
of static soaring flight, which uses thermals to maintain altitude without the need to flap its wings.

The Greater Yellow-headed Vulture also has the unusual habit of urohydrosis, in which it urinates or defecates on its
legs to cool them evaporatively. This behavior is exhibited by storks and New World vultures.

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture , Cathartes burrovianus
Brasilian name: Urubu-de-cabeça-amarela


© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Cathartes burrovianus, also known as the Savannah Vulture, is a species of
bird in the New World Vulture family Cathartidae. It was considered to be the same species as the Greater Yellow-
headed Vulture until they were split in 1964. It is found in Mexico, Central America, and South America in seasonally
wet or flooded lowland grassland, swamps, and heavily degraded former forest. It is a large bird, with a wingspan of
150-165 centimeters . The body plumage is black, and the head and neck, which are featherless, are pale orange with
red or blue areas. It lacks a syrinx, so therefore its vocalizations are limited to grunts or low hisses.

The Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture feeds on carrion and locates carcasses by sight and by smell, an ability which is
rare in birds. It is dependent on larger vultures, such as the King Vulture, to open the hides of larger animal carcasses
as its bill is not strong enough to do this. Like other New World Vultures, the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture utilizes
thermals to stay aloft with minimal effort. It lays its eggs on flat surfaces, such as the floors of caves, or in the hollows
of stumps. It feeds its young by regurgitation.



Gran Chaco savanna, which the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture inhabits
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chaco_Boreal_Paraguay.jpg

The Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture flies solitarily, with wings held in a dihedral position. It glides at a low altitude over
wetlands while locating food, and perches on fence posts or on other low perches. When flying, it travels alone and is
rarely found in groups. The flight of the lesser Yellow-Headed is an example of static soaring flight, which uses thermals
to maintain altitude without the need to flap its wings. This vulture rarely soars high in the air, preferring low altitudes.
This bird is believed to be somewhat migratory in response to the changes in water level where it lives. The Lesser
Yellow-headed Vulture, like other New World Vultures, has the unusual habit of urohidrosis, in which it urinates or
defecates on its legs to cool them by evaporation.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_Yellow-headed_Vulture




Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura,
Brasilian: urubu-de-cabeça-vermelha
Chilean name: Jote de cabeza colorado


© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura, is a bird found throughout most of the Americas. It is also known in some North
American regions as the turkey buzzard (or just buzzard), and in some areas of the Caribbean as the John crow or
carrion crow. One of three species in the genus Cathartes, in the family Cathartidae, the Turkey Vulture is the most
widespread of the New World vultures, ranging from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America.
It inhabits a variety of open and semi-open areas, including subtropical forests, shrublands, pastures, and deserts.

It, like all new world "vultures", is not a "true vulture" in the sense of being related to the Old World vultures of Europe,
Africa, and Asia. It looks nearly identical because of convergent evolution, where natural selection similarly shapes
unrelated animals adapting to the same conditions.


Turkey vulture catching the morning sun at Bluff UT
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Turkey_vulture_Bluff.jpg

The Turkey Vulture is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion. It finds its food using its keen eyes and
sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gasses produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead
animals. In flight, it uses thermals to move through the air, flapping its wings infrequently. It roosts in large community
groups. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses.It nests in caves,
hollow trees, or thickets. Each year it generally raises two chicks, which it feeds by regurgitation. It has very few
natural predators.



© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Turkey Vulture is gregarious and roosts in large community groups, breaking away to forage independently during
the day. Several hundred vultures may roost communally in groups which sometimes even include Black Vultures.
It roosts on dead, leafless trees, and will also roost on man-made structures such as water or microwave towers.
Though it nests in caves, it does not enter them except during the breeding season. The Turkey Vulture lowers its
night-time body temperature by about 6 degrees Celsius to 34 °C, becoming slightly hypothermic.

This vulture is often seen standing in a spread-winged stance. The stance is believed to serve multiple functions: drying
the wings, warming the body, and baking off bacteria. It is practiced more often following damp or rainy nights.
This same behavior is displayed by other New World vultures, by Old World vultures, and by storks. Like storks, the
Turkey Vulture often defecates on its own legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces and/or urine to cool itself,
a process known as urohidrosis. It cools the blood vessels in the unfeathered tarsi and feet, and causes white uric acid
to streak the legs.


ARKive video - Turkey vulture - overview
Turkey Vulture , Cathartes aura - Overview
BBC Natural History Unit
http://www.arkive.org

The Turkey Vulture is awkward on the ground with an ungainly, hopping walk. It requires a great deal of effort to take
flight, flapping its wings while pushing off the ground and hopping with its feet. While soaring, the Turkey Vulture holds
its wings in a shallow V-shape and often tips from side to side, frequently causing the gray flight feathers to appear
silvery as they catch the light. The flight of the Turkey Vulture is an example of static soaring flight, in which it flaps its
wings very infrequently, and takes advantage of rising thermals to stay soaring.

Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus,


© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus, also known as the American Black Vulture, is a bird in the New World vulture
family whose range extends from the southeastern United States to Central Chile and Uruguay in South America.
Although a common and widespread species, it has a somewhat more restricted distribution than its compatriot, the
Turkey Vulture, which breeds well into Canada and south to Tierra del Fuego. Despite the similar name and
appearance, this species is unrelated to the Eurasian Black Vulture. The latter species is an Old World vulture in the
family Accipitridae (which includes eagles, hawks, kites and harriers), whereas the American species is a New World
vulture. It is the only extant member of the genus Coragyps, which is in the family Cathartidae. It inhabits relatively open
areas which provide scattered forests or shrublands. With a wingspan of 1.5 m the Black Vulture is a large bird though
relatively small for a vulture. It has black plumage, a featherless, grayish-black head and neck, and a short, hooked beak.


ARKive video - American black vulture - overview
Black Vultur, Coragyps atratus - Overblikk
Attacked by a crocodile, catches fish, eating turle-eggs.

BBC Natural History Unit
http://www.arkive.org

The Black Vulture is a scavenger and feeds on carrion, but will also eat eggs or kill newborn animals. In areas populated
by humans, it also feeds at garbage dumps. It finds its meals either by using its keen eyesight or by following other
(New World) vultures, which possess a keen sense of smell. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only
vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It lays its eggs in caves or hollow trees or on the bare ground, and generally
raises two chicks each year, which it feeds by regurgitation.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Vulture

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