Vampire Bat Feeding

Among all the mammals that wander the earth, save the few human cannibals, there is only one that feeds only on blood. No not vampires but the vampire bat. A mammal found in Southern Mexico and South America that has existed long before the myths of Dracula and vampires.

A special creature, they have their own unique hunting style that does not rely on echo location like most bats for their targets are not insects but rather full size livestock, mammals and birds. Even humans have had been victims of the vampire bat. Fortunately, these attacks are uncommon and only a result of people destroying and moving into the bat’s natural habitat.

To feed, the vampires leave their home at night and travel the skies looking for prey. Upon finding it they swoop down to the ground. Thermal sensors in their flat noses find the the juiciest blood vessels on their target victim. Razor like fangs lacking Enamel painlessly pierce the sleeping victim’s flesh and trigger the blood flow. Even humans bitten by a vampire while sleeping would not notice. The bat saliva used in the bite has enzymes that prevent blood from clotting and thus lets them drink their fill, which can be up to half their body weight. Yet contrary to vampire legend when the bats feed they actually lap up the blood using grooves in their tongue to steer the blood into their bodies. There is no blood sucking involved. After their 20 – 30 minute meal and drinking a couple teaspoons of blood, the bloated bats urinate to lighten their load. A bloated bat cannot fly.

Upon returning home to their roost, the vampires begin grooming each other, which also enables those who failed to feed to receive a regurgitated meal from their kin. Two or three days without food and the poor little bat will die, making this method of interaction vital to a colony’s survival.

All three species of vampire bats have their own unique method for approaching their prey, but they all feed the same way. So the next time you find yourself in South America, keep the windows shut and the mosquito net up lest you fall prey to a vampire bat’s hunger, unlikely though it may be.

Feeding Wild Birds Year Round – Is This a Good Idea?

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approximately 54 million residents of the United States feed wild birds at backyard feeders. This is important due to the fact that our environment has changed drastically over the last fifty years. Not only do wild birds have to deal with loss of habitat, they must also compete with birds like starlings and house sparrows that are not native to North America.

Feeders provide a supplement to natural food supplies for wild birds. Rarely do they comprise the bulk of their diet. In general, wild birds depend on foods they find away from bird feeders and they find them with incredible efficiency. If all supplemental feeding stopped overnight, there would probably not even be a noticeable decline in bird populations and the joy of introducing children and adults to bird watching is reason enough to attract wild birds to backyard feeders. There are several good reasons to feed wild birds year round.

Early spring is an important season to feed wild birds because most of their preferred natural foods have been consumed during the winter. Backyard food supplies along with fresh water are especially attractive to migrating birds because of the incredible amount of energy needed for their migration. Your supplemental feeding station will provide useful refueling stations for these birds. If other requirements exist in your backyard, the availability of a constant supply of food and water may entice nesting birds to breed on your property. An ample food supply is necessary for birds to attain breeding condition.

Summer is the season of greatest natural food supply for wild birds but it is also the time of their greatest need. With a nest of rapidly growing young, the parent birds must feed themselves and their offspring. During this rapid growth phase of young birds they need high protein diets. This is why most birds feed their young a diet of mostly insects. A suet feeder containing a mixture of one part peanut butter, four parts corn meal, one part flour and one part vegetable shortening will help supply the parent birds and their young the protein they need. Mealworms are also an excellent source of protein during this time.

Summer feeding can also attract fruit eating birds as well as seed and insect eating species. Overripe fruits and bananas are favorites. You can cut fruit open showing the inside and put them on trays or feeding spikes. This is also the season for feeding nectar eating birds. According to the Audubon Society, at least 53 bird species in North America are known to visit sugar water feeders. They consume the same sugar solution as the hummingbirds do.

Even though natural foods such as fruits and insects are abundant in the fall, this is also a season of great food demand. Bird populations are at high levels due to their new crop of fledglings. A protein rich diet of insects is important as most birds replace all of their feathers before migrating. These migratory birds must also put on ample fat to power their long migrations. Sunflower seed and Nyjer seed are both oil-rich seeds that will help birds increase their body fat. Also by feeding birds in early fall you may have a better chance of seeing fall migrants.

Winter is the most difficult season for birds living in the north. The cold weather and short days mean they need more food and have less time to forage for it. At the same time natural food sources are scarce. During this time of year supplemental feeding is most useful to wild bird populations. Both seed and suet should be provided during the winter months along with fresh water.

My strong advice is to keep your bird feeders full all year. You will be helping many wild birds on their migratory flights and supporting the resident birds in your area as well.

Is it America’s Responsibility to Feed the World

We sure hear a lot about all the people in the World who make less than a dollar per day. We hear stories about those who live in the slums of Indonesia, India, China, Africa, South America, Central America, Bangladesh, Haiti and Palestine. Indeed, many believe it is the wealthier countries responsibility to feed them all and care for them; this simply is not so.

In fact it is those people’s responsibility to stop breeding like rats. When the basic foundations of civilization are not taken care of;

  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Trash Collection
  • Education
  • Roads

Then there can be no meaningful life when you pack humans in like sardines. What is unfortunate is that these plighted areas of our World are exploited and thrust onto our television sets we see horrific images in order to make us feel guilty and send money. The truth is that you cannot help people who will not help themselves. When leaders of such nation-states neglect the basic fundamentals and foundations of human civilizations these are the results.

It should come as no surprise to anyone what is going on in the world, as the problem just keeps growing and the breeding of people into the slums is never ending. Everyone agrees something must be done. But sending money into the areas is not the answer. The solution is multi-faceted and it begins with the fundamentals. It begins with accountability of leadership and responsibility of the people.

The United States is not responsible for these problems in the world, nor should it take the blame or brunt of the burden. Infrastructure must be built before a million people set up slums outside major cities and start breeding like rats. Sending cash into a rat-infested feces money hole is no solution. That is not humanitarian aid that is throwing good money after bad and allowing the problem to continue.

For those who cannot handle the reality of these situations and choose to blame the United States, perhaps we should send you a mirror. I certainly hope this article is of interest and that is has propelled thought. The goal is simple; to help you in your quest to be the best in 2007. I thank you for reading my many articles on diverse subjects, which interest you.