Featured Creature Friday: The Vampire Finch

This week, for something a little different, I thought maybe instead of bringing you some bizarre and exotic creature you’ve never heard of, I’d bring you something a little more mundane. It’s just a finch: a cute, tiny little bird. It’s a subspecies of the Sharp-Beaked Ground Finch and the males are dark while the females are streaked brown. It’s overall a very boring bird, except that its beverage of choice is blood.

The finch is, of course, famous in circles beyond even the birdspotters of the world; it was essential to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and specifically helped him to understand and define the process of adaptive radiation, wherein a single species of animal branches rapidly into new species that each have specific adaptations for their individual environments. For most of the finches of the Galapagos, Darwin discovered different beak shapes and variations to make each species of finch more efficient in how it cracked open and ate things like seed pods and nuts.

The Vampire Finch, on the other hand, had to adapt to a lack of freshwater sources on its native Wolf and Darwin islands in the Galapagos. And adapt it did: it developed a habit of perching on another bird, pecking its way through the skin, and drinking the blood.

photo by D. Parer & E. Parer-Cook

It mostly drinks the blood of Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, which in the vein (heh, vein) of emo Twilight fans, doesn’t seem to mind. It’s thought that the behavior arose from when the finches used to simply peck at the Boobies to eat parasites, before they came the parasites themselves, which might be why the Boobies don’t mind. They just think they’re getting a really deep cleaning.

Vampire finches also like to steal other birds’ eggs, roll them until they hit a rock and crack open, and then eat the delicious almost-omelette inside. From this I can only conclude that Vampire Finches are kind of dicks.

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5 thoughts on “Featured Creature Friday: The Vampire Finch

  1. Ha! I love Feature Creature Friday :D Can’t wait to see what next Friday brings! some sort of werewolf perhaps? Hmm, all of a sudden I have a craving for an omelet… :P

  2. I was going to say you had me at your Twilight reference, but that dick comment at the end really stole my heart! I <3 these features, as done by you.

  3. Fascinating! Isn’t nature a most spectacular thing?!

  4. LOVE me some Feature Creature Friday! Another flying animal to add to my list of nightmare fodder…

  5. Pingback: Featured Creature Friday: The Killer Kakapo « Red Roan Chronicles

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