The Pecking Order by KenG ()
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Vultures have a pecking orders, the largest species of Vultures gets to eat first while the smallest of last in line.
The three species depicted here are the Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier (in front), the Himalayan Vulture (mid-left) and the Slender-billed Vultures (on the rocks).
While all vulture species are declining in population, the Slender-billed Vulture is critically endangered. Some pharmaceutical drugs for inflammation in livestock are deadly to vultures-- which they ingest through carrion. All three of these vultures' regions intersect in the Himalayan region.
Lammergeier usually disdains the actual meat, however, and lives on a diet that is typically compromised at 85-90% by bone marrow. This is the only living bird species that specializes in feeding on marrow. The Lammergeier has learned to crack bones too large to be swallowed by carrying them in flight to a height of 150 m above the ground and then dropping them onto rocks below, which smashes them into smaller pieces and exposes the nutritious marrow. They can fly with bones up to 10 cm (3.9 in) in diameter and weighing over 4 kg (8.8 lb), or nearly equal to their own weight. After dropping the large bones, the Bearded Vulture spirals or glides to down to inspect them and may repeat the act if the bone is not sufficiently cracked. This learned skill requires extensive practice by immature birds and takes up to seven years to master. Its old name of Ossifrage ("bone breaker") relates to this habit. More seldom, these birds have been observed to try to break bones (usually of a medium size) by hammering them with their bill directly into rocks while perched.
Rendered in Poser 2012 without Postwork. Model Credits: Rocks/Plants (Traveler), Songbird Remix Vultures2, Carrion, Ground plane, twigs (Me)
Image Comments (13)
Fantastic scene - all the birds have exactly the right Jiz. The wonderful Lammergeier is one of our planets most spectacular birds with huge size and its rich, tawny-golden plumage and contrasting dark feather, wing and eye trim. Nature showing off its best!