If you're looking for a life partner, a bear is not a good role model. Bears spend the summer mating season hooking up -- both males and females may have multiple partners even within the same season. Then the females are on their own to raise their young. Different cubs in the same litter may have different fathers, but it doesn't really matter, because none of those dads will be around to help raise them.
Vultures, on the other hand, mate for life. When it's time to raise young, both parents help incubate the eggs and feed the babies. And they do it with the same partner, over and over again.
Which is the message you'd like to send to your partner this Valentines Day?
- Baby, you're cute, but when you start gaining weight with your first pregnancy I'll go out hunting one day and never come back.
- I know you're going to grow old and wrinkly, but I want to grow old and wrinkly with you.
When you're out on a walk to a romantic spot this weekend, you're likely to see vultures circling above in the thermal currents. Impress your date by knowing the difference between our two native vulture species, even when they're high above:
- Black vultures' wings are mostly black, with lighter feathers just at the tips. They hold them in a flat line, and may flap them quickly.
- Turkey vultures, on the other hand, have a light stripe across the bottom of their wings and tail. They hold their wings in more of a v-shape, and they flap less and more slowly.
But when you see them up there, don't just think, there's a bird that spends its entire life eating rotting flesh. Now you can think, there's a bird that spends its entire life eating rotting flesh and raising its young in a monogamous pair bond.