Yesterday I wrote about a Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) with missing feathers (click here to read). As promised I have several more photos to show today, including some much closer up than those shown yesterday. These photos were taken on the campus of Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa, the international school where my daughter was teaching last year. We went to visit her in December.
Hooded Vultures are found over a large part of sub-Saharan Africa. They are often found near human habitation and are not slow to clean up after human rubbish is dumped. I guess the school oval was an interesting and fruitful place for them to visit, especially after the students had finished eating lunch.
While this species can be locally abundant it has recently (2011) been placed on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species, with fewer than 200,000 individuals left. There has been a rapid decline in numbers in recent years due to poisoning by poachers not wishing the birds to attract attention to their kills. Some are taken for food and sold as chicken meat while others are victims of avian influenza. A further decline has been caused in some areas due to more hygienic waste disposal methods by abattoirs. This species mainly eats carrion but also feeds extensively on insects.
As an interesting side note, observant Australian readers will note that the tree this bird in perching in happens to be an Australian eucalypt. Many have been planted in the school grounds. There are also very extensive eucalypt forests surrounding Addis Ababa, many of them planted in the late 1800s. It is now used extensively for firewood and on construction sites.
Reference: BirdLife International 2011. Necrosyrtes monachus. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 07 February 2012.
The Gouldian Finch of northern Australia is one of our more spectacularly coloured bird species. Sadly, it is one species I have yet to see in its natural environment. (The photo above was taken through the wire netting of an aviary at the Adelaide Zoo.)
Gouldian Finches are unusual in that their heads are usually black, but about a quarter of them are red with a few being yellow. Both males and females show this colour variation.
Finches are very popular cage birds both here and overseas. The Gouldians are much prized aviary birds, probably due to their stunning colours.
Being predominantly seed eaters, Gouldian Finches are found in grasslands, open scrublands and spinifex country. Due to disease and seasonal burning of their habitats, this species has endangered status.