Translated by Yadin Katz (Via Nocamels)
Have you ever visited a great restaurant and then told all your friends about it? You are not alone. A joint research by the Movement Ecology Lab at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Nature and National Parks Authority has discovered that vultures are “gossiping” about food and communicate information about worthy eating locations.
The Griffon vulture, a big bird on the verge of extinction, has suffered a decrease in numbers in Israel in the past few years due to poisoning, shooting and electrocution. In order to figure out where they fly and how they find their food, the researchers did a study on the local eagle population. The results of this study were presented during the 39th conference of the Israeli Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
The team of researchers, Roee Harel, Or Spiegel and Proffessor Ran Natan attached GPS transmitters to 43 vultures in the past 43 years, in order to follow their paths and habits in nature. The technological advantage of the transmitters is that they can deliver an exact location of the vulture every couple of minutes. Equipped with accelerometers, they also give the researchers insight into the vultures’ behaviors. That way they can find out if the vulture was eating, walking, flying, or gliding throughout his course.
“Most carcasses on which the vultures feed are being supplied by the Nature and National Parks Authority in special feeding stations. That allows us to watch them, control the amount of food,” said Roee Harel of the research team. “However, the vultures also feed off the occasional animal carcass they find on their own.”
The research shows that the vultures’ night colonies actually function as information centers where they exchange information and “gossip” with each other. “If a vulture has eaten somewhere and comes at the end of the day to a colony with vultures who haven’t eaten anything, we found that the next day they will all follow together to the spot with the food,” said Harel.
After identifying the vultures, the researchers’ goal was to find out if there was a correlation between the dates of departure of different vulture from their colony. “We found a correlation between the date of departure of individuals who did find food and the individuals who didn’t find any food,” said Professor Ran Natan.