Q: How can we quickly tell a Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) from a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) in the field?
Other than the obvious head coloration differences (which you may / may not be able to spot when in the field) Turkey Vultures have a light underside to their flight feathers, giving them a two-toned appearance across their wings. Black Vultures have white shafts on their outer six primaries and white patches or ‘stars’, so their two-toned appearance is limited to the wing tip region.
2. Wing Shape
The Turkey Vulture has a greater dihedral angle (angle of the wings angled above horizontal) when compared to the Black Vulture’s soaring on horizontal (or slightly above horizontal) wings. Of course, if you happen to be watching a mixed group of vultures you can also make an easy ID just by noticing the larger wingspan of the Turkey Vulture.
3. Tail Shape
Turkey Vultures have a long, rudder-like, round tail that extends well past their toes while in flight. Black Vultures have short bluntly rounded tails that hardly extend past their toes.
4. Flying Style
Because Turkey Vultures are so light (64oz average with a 5 1/2 ft wingspan) so they can soar the thermals for extended periods of time with little to no flapping. When wing flapping is required, the wingbeats are measured and deep. (ex. Flap———— Flap ———— Flap———-) Being a (relative) lightweight isn’t all grace, these guys have a characteristic rocking motion to their soar as they get buffeted by thermal currents.
Black vultures have a shorter wingspan and are heavier birds (68 oz average with a wingspan just shy of 5ft) so their wingload is higher and they rely on strong high thermals to stay aloft. They have shallow almost frantic wing beats in three to five rapid clusters. (Flap-Flap-Flap———- Flap-Flap-Flap-Flap———)
And here’s a turkey vulture with all its soft tissue removed. These don’t fly very well but you can see the “tubercles” on the ulna. These defined bumps are where the bird’s large primary feathers attach.
Bonus photo: Here’s a comparison of a turkey vulture ulna with that of a velociraptor, each showing evidence of the same anatomical feature.
Picture credit: Mick Ellison
Image above caption:
(A) View of right ulna of Velociraptor (fossil reference: IGM 100/981).
(B) Detail from cast of red box in (A), with arrows showing six evenly spaced feather quill knobs.
(C) View of right ulna of a turkey vulture (Cathartes).
(D) Same view of Cathartes as in (C) but with soft tissue dissected to reveal placement of the secondary feathers relative to the quill knobs.
(E) Detail of Cathartes, with one quill completely removed to reveal quill knob.
(F) Same view as in (E) but with quill moved to the left to show placement of quill, knob, and follicular ligament. Follicular ligament indicated with arrow.
Examples of dogs represented in ancient Mexican art.
All of these artifacts date from 200 BCE to 500 CE. The first is from Nayarit, and the rest are from Colima. The dog in last sculpture is shown to be wearing a human mask.
Pipeline from above. More quadcopter cam greatness by Eric Sterman.
By Brian Godsey
Since last year, at least since I wrote this blog post, I’ve been thinking about RedOwl’s software product “stack,” and if I could draw a picture of it. Coming out of academia only two years ago, I was intimately familiar with R, Matlab, Octave, and a few other statistical or analytical software tools, but I was unfamiliar with a lot of the other tools that software shops like RedOwl use. I came to find that there was an entire ecosystem of software, services, and dependencies that are more intricately related than I had previously thought. Sorting through it all felt a bit like venturing into a jungle, encountering all sorts of different things, and not truly understanding them and their relationships to the others until you take the time to study them and put them to use. All jokes aside, there really is a huge amount of diversity and growth in this industry of products that help you build and use software.
Barley and Me
An atmospheric gravity wave. Click link to see time-lapse animation.
Perspective - clouds pouring over the mountains in waves, made visible by speeding up apparent time.
I haven’t dug into this paper yet, but there seems to be some pretty good insight and some stuff that is straight up opposite what tumblr is saying, like the above quote vs "30% of engagement comes 30+ days later" for sponsored content.
It’s great to see tumblr finally appear in an actual research paper. It will be great to see what the Y! Labs team can contribute to the rest of tumblr.
A haiku from the article: Blood-Orange, Ruby-Red Grapefruit and Pomegranate Compote
In this 1905 photograph, a burst of dockside activity at Baltimore’s working waterfront harbor has been captured for posterity. Oysters by the bushel-full are unloaded from bugeye to wagon. Unlikely characters for such muddy labor are dressed in bowler hats, ties, and jackets, while dockhands, better attired for the job, hoist their cargo in creased, stained work clothes. The harbor’s surface is fouled with a scum of refuse and slime, a reminder of the fact that Baltimore’s sewer system was built 7 years after this photo was taken. In the foreground, a bowsprit thrusts almost into the camera, while another, with sail furled, crosses below.
A photo is worth a thousand words, but a picture like this, rich with detail down to the oyster shells crushed into the cobblestones, can be better than time travel.
Photo courtesy of shorpy.com
For a high resolution image: http://bit.ly/1hFpJ6G
“Biscuits is probably the most important turtle,” Merigo says. “They’re all endangered, they’re all important, but only one in one thousand turtles makes it from the egg stage to the size turtle that Biscuits is now.”
— Connie Merigo, New England Aquarium
WBUR’s The Animalist is featuring Biscuits in the story of her transport to warmer water!
SIGNAL BOOST: Baltimore Tumblr pals, have you seen this Yellow Lab?
Dear family friends have lost their dog Charlie who got rattled during a traffic accident and jumped out of the car, and now they’re trying to find him and bring him home. More info here.
In claiming that Americans are looking for rights in all the wrong places, Professor Emily Zackin targets two flawed mindsets: (1) that the exclusive source of new individual rights is the federal Constitution, as opposed to the state constitutions; and (2) that constitutional rights in general are exclusively negative, just libertarian prohibitions on governmental action, not affirmative calls for the government to act.
My best friend’s book is reviewed in the fucking Harvard fucking Law Review. I liked Professor Emily Zackin when she was horse-obsessed summer camp bunkmate Emily Zackin, but I am disgustingly proud of her brilliance now.