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  • 24 ANSWERSMAGAZINE.COM Apr i l June 2012 25Apr i l June 2012 ANSWERSMAGAZINE.COM

    Created Creature

    Disgusting DesignsV

    Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture

    by Dan Breeding

    Vultures have very sharp eyesight. Even perched high above

    the ground, they can see everything

    below them.

    People keep pet birds for all sorts of reasonstheir pretty colors, lovely songs, grace in flight, and curious manners. But Dan Breeding keeps his pet for a very different reason. Buzz reminds us that birds are useful for much more than beauty.

    VULTURES ARE POSSIBLY the creepiest birds on the planet. Between their scaly heads and their gruesome diet, they are often avoided and even feared. Who wouldnt fear something that eats dead animals?

    This narrow view makes us over-look many of the vultures special designs, a point that I make when I teach audiences about my lesser yel-

    low-headed vulture named Buzz. God designed Buzz and his relatives to do what they do, and they do it well.

    What is a vultures job? They find and eat what I call road pizza. They basically help keep the environment livable by limiting the build-up of dead animals and the spread of dis-ease. God carefully designed vul-tures, giving them the needed tools

    to find, digest, and keep clean after eating dead animals.

    FINDING ROAD PIZZA. Most meat-eating animals can find their dinner because it is mobile. Movement makes finding things easier. Have you noticed that when someone walks through your peripheral vision, you are acutely aware of it? But if youve misplaced

    your keys, it can take hours before you find them. God gave Buzz and vultures like him two special designs to help them find their motionless dinnerkeen eyesight and an ex-traordinary sense of smell.

    Vultures have very sharp eyesight. Even when they are soaring high above the ground, they can still see everything below them. God even

    provided them with sun-glasses to protect their eyes against the suns harsh light. Vul-tures have dark lines around their eyes, which work the same way as the dark lines underneath a football players eyes. The dark color absorbs sunlight, reducing glare. This way vultures dont have to worry about missing a single detail.

    2012. Rita Barreto. All rights reserved.

  • 26 ANSWERSMAGAZINE.COM Apr i l June 2012 27Apr i l June 2012 ANSWERSMAGAZINE.COM

    did you know?

    Created Creature

    Dan Breeding is the founder of Creatures of Creation and Wild Animal Encounters. Dan has a degree in Wildlife Education and Animal Training and has made numerous appearances with his animals on television and at the White House.

    Watch Dan Breeding's full presentation about his pet Buzz at

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    Created Creature

    Listen to the audio version of this article.

    God carefully designed vultures with all the needed tools to find, digest, and keep clean after eating dead animals.

    The lesser yellow-headed vultures have another advantage over most birds: a keen sense of smell.1 Their nares, or nose openings, look like holes in their beak. Wind from any direction funnels through the nares, which leads to the largest amount of sniffing pos-sible. Each breeze is loaded with infor-mation, so God equipped these vultures with a very large olfactory lobe, able to handle all that information.

    EATING ROAD PIZZA. Once the vultures find their dinner, how can they possi-bly eat it? Most other animals would get sick from eating dead animals. Why dont vultures get sick all the time?

    God gave them a very special diges-tive system. The acid in their crop (which functions like our stomach) is one of the strongest in the natural

    With the help of its keen eyesight and smell, the vulture rides on waves of air, called thermals, hunting for its next helping of pizza.

    CLASS: Aves

    ORDER: Falconiformes or Ciconiiformes (there is disagreement)

    FAMILY: Cathartidae

    GENUS: Cathartes

    SPECIES: burrovianus

    LENGTH: 2126 inches (5366 cm)

    WINGSPAN: 5965 inches (150165 cm)

    DIET: Eats dead animals, not severely rotten ones. Occasionally will eat live fish, as well as amphibians, insects, and other invertebrates.

    HABITAT: Lesser yellow-headed vultures live in savannas, grasslands, and marshes in Central and South America. Their territory ranges from Argentina and Uruguay to as far north as Mexico. Other vulture species can be found on the other continents, too, except for Australia and Antarctica.

    Vultures dont have a syrinx (the name for a birds vocal cords) and cant sing. This limits vultures to hissing, rattling, grunting, and sneezing to communicate.

    Vultures normally lay one to two eggs during the mating season. The eggs are a cream color with brown and gray blotches. When they hatch, the chicks are blind and naked, depending solely on their parents.

    Vultures are one of only a few types of birds with a sense of smell. Others include the kiwi bird in New Zealand and some petrels (a type of seabird with a tube-like nose).

    Vultures dont build nests. They live in tree cavities, caves, or cliff ledges with no extra padding.

    After they hatch, vultures have crimson-colored eyes, though Buzzs are now a khaki color.

    world. Strong enough to kill the harm-ful bacteria found in their dinner, it keeps them from getting sick from pretty much anything!

    In fact, vultures can use their diges-tive juices to defend themselves. If you were to startle a vulture while it was eating, youd better back up quicklyvultures will vomit on you if youre not careful. This not only makes them lighter (so they can more easily escape), but with the addition of the digestive acid, their lunch now smells much worse.

    AFTER-PIZZA CLEANUP. Vultures keep the environment clean of disease, but how do they keep themselves clean?

    Vultures dont have feathers on their heads. This is why Buzz is known as a yellow-headed vul-turehis head is covered in yellow skin. This lack of feathers helps the vulture keep clean in several ways.

    First, it prevents feath-ers from getting dirty when vultures eat. They will often get their dinner all over their heads, and skin is much easier to clean up than feathers. This is also true of their legs and feet. Since vultures dont have hands, their meal tends to get messy, but since there arent any feathers in the way, cleanup afterwards is much easier.

    But how do vultures wash up? Vultures spread their wings out in

    the sun to warm themselves, while they pick away food particles with their beaks (called preening). With their wing feathers spread, they also let rain remove extra food particles.

    When they are done eating, they find a nice perch and turn their backs

    to the sun. The black feathers on their wings absorb and channel heat to their heads. This kills any bacteria that might have been picked up.

    Cleaning their legs and feet is another story. Vultures have very long tail feathers that keep their legs and feet covered, so they cant get baked clean. Instead, they can release urine down each leg. Vulture urine is very acidic, capable of killing bacteria.

    Now, a final question that often comes up when talking about vultures. You may have even wondered about it when you began reading the article. What did they eat before the Fall (Gen-esis 3)? Before sin, there was no death, so there would be no dead animals for

    vultures to eat. The honest answer is that we dont know yet. God could have provided for these designs to be used only after the Fall, or vultures could have adapted to their new world. Or it could have been a mixture of both.

    But we do know that God continued to provide humans with evidence

    of His loving provision, even after the Fall. The design of vultures may seem disgusting, but they keep our sin-cursed world clean. So the next time you see a vulture circling, just remember: if he didnt grab a slice of that road pizza, who else would?

    NOTES1Only the three species in the genus Cathartes (turkey vulture, lesser yellow-headed vulture, and greater yellow-headed vulture) have a sense of smell. The other four species in the family Cathartidae (California and Andean condors, and black and king vultures) do not.

    Jos Amorin. All rights reserved.


    Created Creature

    Undersea Slug Fest



    by Melinda Christian

    These beautiful colors may appeal to humans, but they flash a warning to other sea creatures: "Dont eat me! Though highly poisonous, the red-gilled nudibranch wasnt born deadly. It eats poisonous food a