Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vultures, condors, buzzards and whatever require DNA studies for clarification of family associations

It depends on what DNA analysis you want to believe.  The folks who study
avian anatormy were happy when the first DNA finding appeared because bsed 
on anatomical evdence they were trying for ears to convince the 
ornithologists that the condors were storks.
Douglas A. James                          tel:  479-575-6364
Department of Biological Sciences         fax:  479-575-4010
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701-1201, U.S.A.       e-mail:
On Thu, 13 Oct 2011, Neil Nodelman wrote:
> I thought I read that recent DNA analysis put them back into the hawk
> world??
> Neil
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Douglas A. James []
> Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2011 10:33 AM
> To: joeneal
> Cc:,; Armstrong,
> Lynn; Barnhill, Rosie; Barr, stephanie; Beall, Bill; Edie, Amy; Erwin,
> Steve; Fields, Warren; Froelich, Jacqueline;,
>; Harris, Nancy; Jones, Carole; Liz, Susan And;
> Lowrey, Beth; MADDOX, BEVERLY; mlodinow, michael; Mulhollan, Paige;
> Mulhollan, Kelly; Mulhollan, Mary Bess; Nodelman, Neil; riley, lisa;
> Schmidt, Brandon; Shepherd, Aubrey; STANFILL, TERRY; Stauffacher, Richard;
> tsweston; Turner, Ellen; VINEY, Michelle; Wisener, Ruth Ann; Woolbright,
> Joe; Young, Susan
> Subject: Re: vulture roost at Lake Sequoyah
> It is known that vultures drop their body temperature at night presumably
> to save energy.  That is why the roosts usually face east so the birds can
> spread eagle at sunrise and catch the first rays of the sun to regain
> normal body temperature.  Besides their food source is not going to run
> away after daybreak.  And they depend on the thermals that are produced as
> the day gets warmer.  Then they can glide effortlessly in search of a
> carcass.  Between carcasses they gain energy by consuming a lot if grass.
> Only the Turkey Vulture has a good sense of smell and finds the carcasses
> first.  The Black Vulture does not have a keen sense of small.  Black
> Vultures watch the activity of Turkey Vultures and gang up on them in
> groups chasing them away.  And I guess you all know that DNA evidence
> tells us that the Condors (which includes the Turkey and Black) are short
> legged storks.
> Douglas A. James                          tel:  479-575-6364
> Department of Biological Sciences         fax:  479-575-4010
> University of Arkansas
> Fayetteville, AR 72701-1201, U.S.A.       e-mail:
> On Thu, 13 Oct 2011, joeneal wrote:
>> Both Turkey and Black Vultures were going into a roost at Lake Sequoyah
> Park
>> in Fayetteville yesterday, with some birds already perched in the roost
> by at
>> least 6 PM. The roost site is on the northwest side of the lake, on a
>> forested slope facing due east. While some birds were in the roost,
> others
>> soared nearby, above and along a forested slope just northeast,
> apparently
>> using thermal updrafts produced by a modest southerly breeze pushed
> upward by
>> the mountain slope, giving the big birds a lift. This roost site has
> been in
>> use for years. We often see both vulture species there during the
>> Fayetteville Christmas Bird Count.
>> Lake Sequoyah was formed by damming the White River. The pre-dam White
> flowed
>> against a relatively low limestone bluff. The birds perch in trees along
> a
>> shallow and now completely forested holler running down the old bluff.
> This
>> affords them a fair amount of protection from wind chill out of the
> north and
>> northwest. Since the bluff faces east, it tends to warm up early in the
> day,
>> another good thing if you are a big creature that soars for a living.
>> A good spot to observe the vultures without disturbing them is an old
>> concrete bridge that once spanned the White River. Now a fishing pier,
> the
>> old bridge is a few hundred yards north of the roost site and provides a
> fine
>> view of the lake's dam end plus the surrounding forested hills. You
> reach
>> this part of the park on Lake Sequoyah Spur. Unfortunately, the forested
>> habitat between Lake Sequoyah Spur and the lake edge, including the
> roost, is
>> thin, and quite prone to disturbance, casual and deliberate.
>> --
>> JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

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