Not just one, but two different species of vultures. These scavengers are an important part of nature's clean up crew. Featherless heads make it easy for the birds to keep clean as they tear apart carrion. Strong stomach acids allow the vultures to eat carrion without getting sick.
Bildstein's latest work is an inspirational and long overdue blend of all things vulture. Based on decades of personal experience, dozens of case studies, and numerous up-to-date examples of cutting-edge science, this book introduces readers to the essential nature of vultures and condors. Not only do these most proficient of all vertebrate scavengers clean up natural and man-made organic waste but they also recycle ecologically essential elements back into both wild and human landscapes, allowing our ecosystems to function successfully across generations of organisms. With distributions ranging over more than three-quarters of all land on five continents, the world's twenty-three species of scavenging birds of prey offer an outstanding example of biological diversity writ large.
Facultative scavengers are the carnivores that are capable of hunting but prefer to gain their food in an easier way instead. Scavengers play a fundamental role in the environment through removal of the decaying organisms, and we need them. Just like vacuums, the scavengers serve nature as a sanitation service. Below are some of the best scavengers in the wild, so check them out.
It is known that opossums are scavengers, and they eat almost anything they can chew. Opossums eat dead animals, insects, rodents, and birds, and they also feed on eggs, frogs, plants, fruit, and grain. As scavengers, they often visit human homes or settlements to raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and other containers. These marsupials are attracted to carrion, and people often see them near roadkills. Their most well-known trait is their tendency to play dead in front of predators when they have the fear of danger. Opossums are smart, clean, and so beneficial to humans than many other woodland animals, and they are one of the best scavengers as well.
In order to reverse this trend, there has been an increase in the practice of deliberately leaving or placing out carcasses of domestic or wild herbivores with the aim of providing a source of supplementary food for scavengers. This practice has been implemented predominately to benefit avian scavengers in many countries including Europe (Spain, France, and UK) and parts of Africa and Asia (Piper 2005; Gilbert et al. 2007; The Scottish Government 2011a; John Muir Trust 2012) but it has also been used to benefit the wider scavenger communities and to promote nutrient cycling (John Muir Trust 2009; Cunningham 2010). However, the benefits of this activity for the target species or the wider consequences for the other trophic levels and ecosystem functions are unclear. In addition, conflicts have arisen between those who provide carcasses for nature conservation reasons and other people in these localities. These conflicts revolve around a number of issues ranging from impacts on local livelihoods due to conflicting land uses to differences in opinion on the acceptability of this practice.
South West European societies seem to have embraced the practice of leaving carcasses out as a tool to conserve vultures: farmers are happy to provide carcasses, visitors are eager to view the spectacle of vultures feeding, and vultures seem to benefit too. Perhaps the practice is accepted because it is in line with traditional management practices, in which case this could provide a good example of the importance of taking traditional land management practices into consideration when suggesting carcass placement as a nature conservation tool.
Vulture species are the best (and one of the few) examples of obligate scavengers. Their bodies are designed so that they are able to function off of small scraps of food left behind by larger predators. While most scavengers search on the ground, vultures are able to glide overhead, which consumes little energy and gives them a better view of the area so that they may locate food more quickly. Accipitridae and Cathartidae are two other families of birds considered obligate scavengers. 153554b96e