Welcome to the last blog post on Light Future Art of 2020! Yes, the next time we see each other, it will be 2021! Around New Year’s, I always tend to think of the Rudolph New Year’s movie, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. Specifically, the vulture character named Eon. I haven’t seen this movie since I was a child so reading the movie summary and seeing that Eon kidnapped a baby to prevent himself from turning to dust was a surprise to me. Regardless of any baby-napping or unfortunate, turning-into-dust prophecies, I decided that it would be appropriate to share some facts about vultures today before the clock strikes midnight. Enjoy!
1. The largest vulture is the Andean condor, with a wingspan of up to 12 feet wide. The smallest vulture is the hooded vulture, with a wingspan sometimes reaching five feet wide. But that’s still almost as tall as I am, so “smallest vulture” is clearly relative.
2. Police are studying vultures and considering using them to help find bodies, similar to how they use K9 dogs to sniff out drugs and weapons.
3. The majority of vulture species are monogamous and mate for life.
4. As vultures do not have vocal cords, they are pretty silent. They communicate with hissing or grunts and do not have songs or calls.
5. There are 23 species of vultures in the world, seven New World vultures, and 16 Old World vultures. The two groups are actually not closely related.
6. New World vultures can also sometimes be called buzzards or condors. While some vultures are formally known as condors, calling vultures “buzzards” is colloquial and just as correct as calling them vultures.
7. Vultures do not circle dying or dead animals. They ride large thermal currents in the air to search for food but, once the food has been located, they make a beeline right to it.
8. The highest-flying bird in the world is Rueppell’s griffon vulture. They have been known to flying at altitudes of several thousand feet, the same as some airplanes.
9. Vultures use tools. Egyptian vultures specifically have been observed using rocks to break open ostrich eggs. While this may be intuitive to us, very few animals actually utilize tools from their environment to do what their body can’t.
10. Vultures are highly social animals. A flock of vultures is called a committee or a venue. A group of vultures in flight is called a kettle. A group of vultures feeding is called a wake.
I hope everyone enjoys their New Year’s celebrations! We all deserve it, certainly.
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