Sunday 23 October 2011

Vampire Finch

Sharp-beaked Ground Finches are from the Galápagos Islands. They eat seeds and invertebrates. A perfectly respectable diet. But there is a subspecies of this particular finch that lives in rather dry areas. Areas where fresh water is hard to come by. They'll need to find water from somewhere. I wonder where they could possibly find it?

Nectar! They drink nectar from the flowers of their local prickly pears.

OK, they've also found yet another source of water.

It appears that some Sharp-beaked Ground Finches were digging through the plumage of Nazcas and Blue-footed Boobies in search of parasites to add to the invertebrate side of their diet. I guess the Sharp-beaked Ground Finch has a sharp beak, because it looks like they broke through the skin and liked what they found.

Thus began the Vampire Finch. Over time, their beak has become larger and more pointed than those of other Sharp-beaked Ground Finches. This allows them to more easily cut through the skin of their hosts to get to the blood. And of course, it's just the kind of thing that would later give Charles Darwin something to think about.

Strangely, this vampirism doesn't seem to overly concern its victims. Those Boobies pretty much just sit there, occasionally ruffling their feathers in discomfort but not putting up much resistance. It makes me wonder if getting their parasites done is a painful process in itself and actually getting cut and their blood lapped up doesn't feel as different as one might imagine.

These thirsty finches don't stop there, though. Their decent into depravity continues to another level. Not only do they soil their beaks with the blood of others, they do the same with the unmade flesh of the unborn.

Vampire Finches steal eggs that are almost as big as themselves. They pounce on them soon after they're laid and roll them over rocks until they crack open. This provides them a bonanza of watery nourishment to get through, even though it really isn't behaviour one expects from a sweet, little finch.

It's all pretty sick. If only they could make a little fire for themselves. Turning blood and fresh eggs into black pudding and boiled eggs would make it into a perfectly decent breakfast!


TexWisGirl said...


Joseph JG said...


Crunchy said...

Vampire Bird!

Joseph JG said...

Hahahaha! That's utterly barmy, thanks!