Editorial Review

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

Cover: Vultures: Nature's Cleanup Crew

In this chapter of the illustrated “Nature’s Cleanup Crew” series readers will learn about vultures, how they survive, what their typical behaviors are, and how these fascinating creatures assist in maintaining nature’s balance. The primary focus of the text is on white-backed vultures, a species that lives throughout Africa south of the Sahara Desert. White-backed vultures feed on carrion and have eyesight so powerful that they can see a carcass while circling more than 5,000 feet in the air. With a wingspan of more than seven feet, vultures are a substantial bird. Despite being equipped with a powerful beak, vultures are reliant upon other animals such as hyenas or jackals to bite open the often thick-skinned carcasses they search for. Once a feeding frenzy has begun, vultures follow a sort of pecking order at a carcass so that injuries and disputes do not occur. Dedicated parents, vultures mate for life and typically care for one offspring per year. Vultures can eat over 10% of their body weight at a single feeding. After eating this much meat at one setting, vultures have to rest and digest in order to even take off from the ground again.

Fulfilling a vital cleanup role in nature, vultures are highly effective at their work and in so doing they eliminate decaying matter that could cause disease. Challenged by climate change, environmental disruption, and human incursions into their territories, vultures continue to carry out their life’s task of helping to keep the natural order clean and neat. These birds are thoughtfully presented in this nature study with the ample color photographs that are included and which vividly show them in action. Readers interested in nature will enjoy and profit from this book as well as the other titles in the series.

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