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The Vampire Finch

Bwaa-haa-haa! Happy Halloween!
© Charles Davies CC View Large

Vampire Ground-Finches menace their victims in broad daylight, stabbing holes in their flesh, then devouring the blood. During the dry season, when their usual diet of seeds can be scarce, they turn to large seabirds, like boobies. Fluttering onto a booby’s back, the finch jabs its sharp beak in among the feathers until blood flows, making a meal of it. Why boobies tolerate this remains a mystery.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Out For Blood: Vampire Finches of the Galapagos

Written by Bob Sundstrom

[Thunderclap]
This is BirdNote.
[Featured audio: creepy music - http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xjzctj ]
In the far-off Galápagos Islands, blood is dripping. There are vampires at work.
But they don't wait for cover of darkness to take wing. [Sharp-beaked Ground Finch song, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/86756, 1.02-1.05] They menace their victims in broad daylight, stabbing holes in their flesh, then devouring the blood.
[Sharp-beaked Ground Finch song, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/86756, 1.02-1.05]
These vampires aren't bats. Or castaway Transylvanian aristocrats. They’re Vampire Ground-Finches. And they look innocent enough.
  Vampire Ground-Finches sometimes eat seeds, but during the dry season, seeds can be scarce. And their survival options are few: fly to another island, starve, or ... see what else nature offers.
On offer are large seabirds, like boobies. [Blue-footed Booby call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/28658, 0.16-.17] Fluttering onto a booby’s back, the finch jabs its sharp beak in among the feathers until blood flows. Again and again the finch dips its beak in the blood, making a meal of it.
Why boobies tolerate the blood-letting isn’t known. They may be too preoccupied with nesting. [Blue-footed Booby call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/28658, 0.16-.17] Or it may be there are so many finches that boobies have no alternative but to adapt to a part-time role as blood donors.
Happy Halloween … from BirdNote. I’m Michael Stein (maniacal laugh).

                                                                               ###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 86756 recorded by Robert I. Bowman and 28658 recorded by Arnoud B van den Berg.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2017 Tune In to Nature.org  October 2017   Narrator: Michael Stein
ID#              GEOSEP-01-2017-10-31   GEOSEP-01

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