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30 September 2005 @ 10:48 am
Indian Vulture  
Vultures do not feature as favourite birds for anyone, and yet they were very important once upon a time. These birds thrived in the Indian peninsula till about ten years ago and since then their population has gone done by an unbelievable 95%!!! Nobody has a conclusive theory for their drastic decline. They used to have a good supply of food because people do not eat cows and nearly everyone owns a cow in our villages.

They are not exactly pretty, but vultures are still fascinating. An African species - the Ruppell's griffon - once hit an airplane at 37000 feet above the mean sea level!!! (Search on your favourite search engine if you don't believe me ;-)

The new world vultures are slightly different in the sense that they use the sense of smell for locating their food (there are exceptions like the Condor however), whereas these old world ones use their remarkable eyesight. And yet, they are not the best one in terms of eye sight - that record is held by the great one - the peregrine falcon which can apparently spot pigeons 5 miles away!!!! The peregrine falcon also holds the world speed record for the fastest flight - a cool 120 mph!

So, the place where I saw and photographed these vultures also had a peregrine falcon. That day was wonderful, looking at these two birds of prey for more than two hours. While the vulture was slow and calm and built like a garbage truck, the peregrine was like a Formula 1 car - a combination of smoothness (of flight), speed, acceleration and maneuverability - the perfect raptor. Too bad, I could not get photographs of that one.

An adult Indian Vulture (formerly long-billed vulture)

A juvenile Indian Vulture

Preethifiveonehalf on September 30th, 2005 04:04 am (UTC)
Amazing shot! These birds look so well suited to the hard and rocky surrounding.
And I didn't know that only the young have that fluff of feathers around the neck. Thought all vultures did.
Yathinyathin on September 30th, 2005 04:08 am (UTC)
The adult of this species does have ... it can't be seen clearly in the picture. :)
Diana Paradisedianaparadise on September 30th, 2005 05:44 am (UTC)
I like vultures, have always thought they were pretty amazing.
Premnath Kudvapremkudva on September 30th, 2005 05:52 am (UTC)
I saw this tv show mostly on BBC or one of the nature channels on how the Indian vultures are slowly getting wiped out for no known reason.

Meanwhile these two examples you have posted... I can see you asking them to pose, see that top one, he is saying "..is this angle ok?"

Lovely photos. Great backgrounds too.
Yathinyathin on September 30th, 2005 05:56 am (UTC)
I can see you asking them to pose, see that top one, he is saying "..is this angle ok?"

Actually, that shot is because of the one hour we stood on a high slippery cliff in the rain! Shooting wildlife needs a hell a lot of patience and especially birds, since if you scare them, they'll go away without ever bothering to come back to the beautiful perches. :)
Premnath Kudvapremkudva on September 30th, 2005 05:59 am (UTC)
One hour! In the rain that too. Birds can be very finicky, even the garden variety, so I can well imagine the wild kind.
bluesmuse on September 30th, 2005 09:02 am (UTC)
Yes, even I had watched a show on National Geographic which tried to find out the reasons behind the drastic drop in their number. I dont remember much of it right now, but it had to do something with the dead meat that they eat, it caused problems in their livers.
I hadn't thought much about vultures before watching this program. They are very smart birds and play an important role in the ecosystem, that of cleaners.
ZuZusuzan_s on September 30th, 2005 09:43 am (UTC)
Great photos. If you ever make it to the states I would recommend a trip to the Grand Canyon. People get up early, I took folding chairs, and sit on the rim of the canyon & wait. It's not a bad place to just sit and look out at the scenery but to see a giant Condor swoooop down and circle around the canyon within yards of where you're sitting...well...I get chills right now remembering. I am not a great photographer like you but I will try to find a photo to post. Thank you for sparking some wonderful memories.
Vinit Bhansalivinit on September 30th, 2005 11:35 am (UTC)
Yathin, your photographs have always been awesome, but now I read the text too, and that just makes it all the more better. I've got all my young cousins to goto your blog every few days (more like months, with them, you know how it can be!) but they do find it cool!

Esp. because then can then relate these photos to actual places they have been too, like ramnagaram, yercaud, etc.

Look at the juvi, now we know why feathered collared women look so "vulturish" !!!

Dr. Tarique Sanitariquesani on October 1st, 2005 02:33 am (UTC)
Where is the location? What was the time when you took the picture?
How many vultures were there?
Nests? Pairs?

Great pics!
Yathinyathin on October 1st, 2005 03:15 am (UTC)
It was around 8-9 am on a cloudy rainy day and hence the vultures were extremely inactive. We saw about 4 of them. 3 adults and 1 juvenile. This is a regular roosting place for these vultures and a guaranteed sighting there... maybe you should pay a visit when you are here for FOSS.in
Dr. Tarique Sanitariquesani on October 1st, 2005 03:44 am (UTC)
Thanks, we were indeed planning a birding day when we were in Bangalore...