Oct 25 2010
Well, yes. Some vultures can rapidly change the skin color of their bare faces and throats in response to peers and rivals. Scientists in Namibia observed interactions among lappet-faced vultures at feeding sites and found that these birds have their own “vulture facebook” signals.
The scientists learned that lappet-faced vultures with pale skin are at the bottom of the pecking order, even lower than juveniles. Those with bright red skin, as seen on the throat of the vulture pictured here, are dominant over pale-skinned and juvenile birds and vultures with blue throats were dominant over all.
This knowledge adds a whole new dimension to vulture watching.
Do our turkey vultures do this?
I don’t know. Maybe they don’t use (vulture) Facebook.
(photo linked from Science Daily, credit: iStockphoto/Johan Swanepoel. Click on the photo to read the Science Daily article.)