Griffon Vulture Webcam in Israel

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Marbzy
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Re: Griffon Vulture Webcam in Israel

Post by Marbzy » March 2nd, 2020, 11:41 am

At 4:17 am, with Dad in the nest, there was a little unrest again, though probably nothing really deserving a mention. Both Dad and chick were awake, perhaps just for some very early morning feeding.

11:14 Mom has returned
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11:15 Not the friendliest of looks, but isn't she a handsome and respectable lady!
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There's an interesting and publicly available 2010 paper on the reproductive success rate of Cretean griffons: "Breeding biology and reproductive performance of Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus on the island of Crete (Greece)" by Stavros M. Xirouchakis. Should the conclusions produced by Xirouchakis's research carry over to the Negev population, it's not yet plain sailing from here for the chick produced by K74 and T49, but its chances of fledging and developing into a healthy adult are statistically rather good now that it's reached the rearing stage. Fingers still crossed.

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Post by Marbzy » March 2nd, 2020, 2:47 pm

12:40 This looks like preening but in fact she had been "playing" with the wing tag quite aggressively for something like half a minute
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13:18 Lunchtime
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13:21 Another helping, please!
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Post by Marbzy » March 2nd, 2020, 2:56 pm

13:23 The beak-food-beak chain. The little one is beginning to tug at the meals he's served
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13:25 Now, who's watching who?
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13:48 The length of her neck
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 12:12 am

14:53 Dad's back home. The chick prefers to stay in the shade
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14:59 A wedding photo shoot?
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15:01 Finally, Mom makes some room for Dad to interact with Junior. She is busying herself with the irksome wing tag again
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 12:19 am

15:03 As Dad is gearing up for some regurgitation, the chick exhibits his/her wings
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15:05 Wasn't Dad competent enough?
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15:05 What. A. Wing.
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 12:23 am

15:48 Dad gets a second chance
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15:49 And this time he delivers
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15:56 Mom takes over again. She hasn't left the nest all this time (she did have a night out, though)
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 12:26 am

16:11 Dad is back to his business somewhere. Mom will have stayed with the chick the remainder of the day (mind the beak on the wall)
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3 March

00:26 And here they are
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 5:16 pm

11:01 Dad has replaced Mom, the chick continues to grow
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11:05 Kid is no slouch when it comes to demanding food
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11:09 Dad's got to make way - Mom's arrived with a couple of twigs
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 5:19 pm

11:10 Dad's attempts to feed the chick were below par
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11:11 Dad takes off
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11:12 Now, this is how you feed the little one
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 5:22 pm

11:13 Greedy little chick
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11:16 Digestion time
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14:38 Dad comes back to give Mom a break
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 5:27 pm

14:43 A tale of two tails?
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14:45 Dad's back to his horaltic best
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14:48 He maintains the pose for about four minutes (without a break)
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 5:35 pm

14:53 Dad offers the chick a feather, presumably one of his own tail feathers (at least initially the feather seemed symmetrical)
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14:56 He's off (with his head)
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14:58 From this perspective the feather looks more like a wing primary or secondary
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 5:39 pm

15:06 Now Mom goes horaltic
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15:09 I timed her at over 3 minutes
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16:20 And there she goes again - impressive
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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 5:45 pm

17:40 Pensive Mom, half-asleep yet alert
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:wave:

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Post by Polly » March 3rd, 2020, 6:43 pm

:hi:

Any idea why you take this attitude so persistently?
Solar sails or impressing unwelcome visitors?

Looks great! :)

I read that griffon vultures also live here in Germany. That was new for me. :unsure: Learned something again. And also that they only lay one egg at a time.
"Let nature be your teacher."
(William Wordsworth)

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Post by Marbzy » March 3rd, 2020, 10:09 pm

It's all pretty new to me, so in order to find out more about the pose I have consulted a few sources, none of which could be termed particularly authoritative. Nonetheless, there appears to be general agreement that the horaltic pose serves a number of purposes. The term itself may be derived from the name "Horus", and that's the designation of the Egyptian god of the sky, apparently associated both with the Sun and the Moon, but could just as well be a corrupt form of "heraldic" (the phrase "horaltic pose" easily outnumbers "heraldic pose" when fed into a search engine, but this is merely circumstantial evidence). Anyway, vultures, other raptors (various species of eagle are usually mentioned), storks, etc., assume the pose when fully exposed to sunlight.

A few speculative interpretations may be found. According to one of them, birds assume the pose mainly in the morning to, in a way, warm themselves up cheaply. Another explanation is that they spread wings to dry them. The most convincing one when it comes to the vultures in the Negev is that holding their wings in direct sunlight helps them to channel parasites into areas to which the birds have easy access. So the idea would be to get rid of parasites more easily.

This makes a lot of sense to me as in the few cases I've witnessed the behaviour was generally preceded by a feeding which - with tiny pieces of regurgitated content not finding their way directly into the chicks beak - would be conducive to the arrival of innumerable passengers. Flies - these "parasite transmitters" - can often be seen circulating close to the nest or even landing on the wings a parent vulture especially during a feeding on a sunny afternoon (and most of the afternoons are very sunny, indeed).

Our griffons spread their wings - at least as far as we can observe here! - only when exposed to sunlight, which is regularly in the afternoon, mainly between 1 and 4 pm local time. Unless they also assume the pose in the morning somewhere out of the nest, this rules out the need to warm up (the "solar sails" hypothesis, as it were) before taking off. Mom K74 has performed the act at least three times today without leaving the nest afterwards.

15:50 Mom in the act again
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Incidentally, maintaining the pose for several minutes seems an energy-consuming exercise - it's not difficult to see that if a griffon spreads its wings and stays in the position for a few minutes, the degree to which the wings are stretched decreases gradually over time.

Nor are the vultures' wings likely to need drying. The Negev Desert is very much an arid area, no moisture can normally be observed on any of the vultures' body parts (except, occasionally, the beak after a feeding). Storks or cormorants may assume the horaltic posture primarily for this purpose, though probably not the Negev vultures.

Quite a few people I know are likely to place their bedclothes in a sunny spot on a warm morning. The reason for this, I'm told, is to bake off mites and bacteria. I find the analogy compelling.

But I'm just an amateur vulture watcher (and would therefore not attach too much weight to my own words) with little chance of ever observing one in my country. Just a few sightings have been reported in Poland over the last 100 years, even though the griffon vulture used to be resident in this territory still in the 19th century. I've had a few opportunities to watch griffons on both sides of the Pyrenees and in the Picos de Europa range, though. It's hard not to admire these majestic creatures.

22:02 The sleeping beauty
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Post by Marbzy » March 4th, 2020, 8:49 am

4 March

After Mom spent the night with the chick, there has been an early change. Dad must have replaced Mom some time between 6:20 and 7:40.

Another change takes place at 8:50. A major breakfast follows, with the chick pulling several chunks of meat from Mom's beak. Mom seems to have brought more nest material, too.

09:25 Here's a quick hello from Mom. The chick could well be fast asleep after the huge breakfast
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Post by Polly » March 4th, 2020, 6:23 pm

There's an interesting and publicly available 2010 paper on the reproductive success rate of Cretean griffons: "Breeding biology and reproductive performance of Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus on the island of Crete (Greece)" by Stavros M. Xirouchakis. Should the conclusions produced by Xirouchakis's research carry over to the Negev population, it's not yet plain sailing from here for the chick produced by K74 and T49, but its chances of fledging and developing into a healthy adult are statistically rather good now that it's reached the rearing stage. Fingers still crossed.
Is the danger of hunting or poisoning meant here? :unsure:

Thanks for the very detailed explanation of the wing position. In retrospect I found the same explanation in an article. :nod:
"Let nature be your teacher."
(William Wordsworth)

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Post by Marbzy » March 4th, 2020, 11:02 pm

13:15 Dad has replaced Mom again
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14:25 And here we go again!
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15:50 And again!
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Post by Marbzy » March 4th, 2020, 11:28 pm

Polly wrote:
March 4th, 2020, 6:23 pm
Is the danger of hunting or poisoning meant here? :unsure:
With under 60 pairs breeding in all of Israel and the number dwindling, the species is considered critically endangered locally. In Israel alone there were said to be about 120 breeding pairs less than two decades ago. This information comes from the (English-language version of the) BirdLife Israel webpage where the vulture live cam may be followed.

I suppose the nest is located in the Eilat Mountains Reserve, which should reduce the threats of hunting or poisoning. Hopefully, the parents will also be able to find a sufficient supply of food throughout the rearing stage. What I find a little more worrying is the threat of disease. For one thing, the adults assume the horaltic posture quite often (I have no idea though what the norm could be) - here's Dad in the position again:

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For another, the pair - as well as the chick - are sure to be persistently harried by flies (or whatever these insects are) in the coming weeks. These insects have been getting increasingly impudent, more and more frequently landing today on T49's wings and head, especially close to the eyes, clearly frustrating the adult at times. The chick, I feel, is bound to be affected as well. Here are a couple of shots, taken at 16:45 and 16:48, with flies in the centre of the fields marked in red

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