[ExI] vultures sneeze

spike spike66 at att.net
Sat Jan 17 18:24:18 UTC 2015

Crows and ravens are special birds, and are perhaps the easiest wild birds to observe: they like people.  Or they like to mess with people.  Seagulls are like that too.  They play, they seem curious, they do fun stuff.  


BillW, we have a few ravens who have discovered how to put walnuts in the road and let cars run over them, but even better now.  There is a phenomenon in my neighborhood where a raven with a nut will perch on top of a light pole on the corner.  When she hears a garage door opening, she takes the nut, swoops down and places it in the driveway, then flies away to watch.  You are the one who asked if dogs reason.  Answer: sure they do, and this bird is demonstrating that this bird reasons too.  She knows that when a garage door opens, a car will come out, and cars crush nuts and a bird can’t get to the contents of a nut unless it is crushed.  


Cars are recent, automatic garage door openers are even more recent.  That bird at some point reasoned out a cause and effect relationship and acted on it.  Conclusion: some birds definitely use reason, and it is clear enough that dogs and cats do as well.  I don’t think you will find too many dog and cat owners who will dispute that notion, or if so, I am interested in their evidence.




From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of William Flynn Wallace
Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2015 10:02 AM
To: ExI chat list
Subject: Re: [ExI] vultures sneeze


Get 'The Secret Life of Garden Birds' and you will be totally amazed, especially at the social systems of crows and ravens.  Not to be sneezed at.

bill w


On Sat, Jan 17, 2015 at 11:20 AM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:

Well, I’ll be damn.  No, the subject line isn’t the name of the new hip hop group.  I have been watching birds and wildlife for half a century and today I saw something completely new and unexpected: vultures sneeze.  


I have heard that chirping in birds might have some other purpose besides intra-species communication; clearing of the airways analogous to mammal’s sneezing.  But that wouldn’t apply to non-chirpers such as carnivorous birds in general.


Vultures are difficult to observe beasts; they don’t like people much.  A vulture had a snake in my neighbor’s backyard this morning.  As he was devouring his snake he did something that looks exactly like a mammalian sneeze: with the side-to-side head shaking immediately after the discharge, a little like what dogs, cats and humans sometimes do.


I went for my video camera and made a bunch of video, but none of it is particularly YouTube-able.  That sneeze would have been, but he didn’t repeat the behavior.


Conclusion: at least one example of a species of carnivorous bird sneezes.



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