Saturday, August 22, 2009

Perforate Nares

Juvenile Turkey Vulture

You learn something every day. Yesterday I saw this juvenile Turkey Vulture. When I noticed you can see right through a hole in its beak, I wondered if that hole had a name. Well, it is called, "perforate nares," and it contains the birds' nostrils. American vultures all have this feature, and it separates them from the vultures of the Old World. Turkey Vultures have an incredible sense of smell. I read somewhere that vultures can smell a dead mouse under a pile of leaves from two hundred feet in the air. (Now I have no idea how they KNOW that, but that's what I read.) The pass-through nostril system allows more scents to reach the birds' olfactory organs. Makes sense to me.

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