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However, four months later, the two, who has a 2-year-old daughter, claim they are no longer able to visit because a neighbor is feeding the wildlife.

Vulture Pecking Order

Blood was everywhere. It was a vile, vicious, traumatic event. And it was Memorial Day, so no company I called would come out to help me.

Katz said an elderly woman is said to be feeding the vultures. Lead poisoning, pesticides, and active persecution have put vultures at serious risk. No fewer than 16 species are classified as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable. Around the world, captive breeding programs are trying to throw the birds a lifeline. Similar efforts have done wonders in the past. In , the global population of California condors consisted of just 23 birds. Now, there are over documented individuals, with more than half of those flying free out in the wild.

Vultures have developed ironclad stomachs to be able to consume tough flesh and bones.

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Their extremely acidic digestive fluids not only break down rotting meat; they also kill pathogens like anthrax, botulinum toxins, and the rabies virus that would otherwise make them sick. Those fluids can also be a handy, highly corrosive weapon against predators. When turkey vultures and other species feel threatened, they upchuck a mess of semi-digested offal and acid toward their attackers and escape.

This defensive vomiting may also rid their stomachs of a heavy meal so they can take flight quickly. They can also chase you down : Ostriches are the fastest species on two legs, with a top speed of about 43 mph.

More than critically endangered vultures die of poisoning in Botswana

They can maintain a swift 30 mph pace for 10 miles, making them the marathon champs of the avian world. On each foot is a 5-inch claw that cassowaries use to defend themselves.

At least two people have been kicked to death by cassowaries, the most recent being a Florida man who unwisely kept one of the birds as a pet. Like a smaller, shaggier ostrich, the 5- to 6-foot emu is the second-largest bird on Earth as well as a goofy spokesbird for insurance. During the breeding season, female emus fight enthusiastically over unattached males.

But the results of this mating ritual are impressive: clutches of forest-green, oval eggs that resemble giant avocados. This flightless bird is named for the Titan goddess Rhea, who gave birth to all of the Olympian gods and goddesses in Greek mythology.

At up to 5 feet tall and 66 pounds, the greater rhea may not seem like as much of a terror as the ostrich. But it gathers in massive flocks of up to birds during the non-breeding season, so watch out if you happen to be in its South American habitat. How scary can a pelican be, you ask? When it stands almost 6 feet tall, weighs 33 pounds, and has a wingspan of 9 feet—all traits of the Dalmatian pelican—it's pretty petrifying. These scruffy-feathered monsters, native to Europe and Asia, breed in colonies of up to pairs and can gulp impressive mouthfuls of fish in one go.

One of the heaviest flying birds, mute swans look harmless as they glide over ponds, lakes, and rivers. But mute swans are far from silent when defending their families and territory. Maintaining its average weight of 25 pounds requires a lot of calories, after all. Its wingspan is slightly less than its northern cousin, the California condor , but it still reaches a dramatic 9 to 10 feet. Another big bird with a foot wingspan, this Old World vulture has excellent vision to spot carrion while it flies, and a featherless head that resists the accumulation of gore when it feeds.

Vulture Facts

It also eats other birds. The largest verified wingspan on a marabou stork measured Shoebill storks may not be the tallest, heaviest, or widest-winged birds, but just look at that death stare.


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On top of having a nutcracker for a face, the 5-foot-tall shoebill leads a fearsome lifestyle. It stands absolutely still for hours to hunt prey, watching for lungfish or baby crocodiles, then spreads its wings and collapses over it while trapping the target in its bill. Aplicativos e plugins. Mobile Android iPhone Windows Phone.

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