Red-headed Vulture

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image: RHVulture.jpg

Common Name: Red-headed Vulture
Scientific Name: Sarcogyps calvus

Size: 34 inches (85 cm); Wingspan 79 inches (200 cm)

Habitat: Asia; historically abundant with range over south-central and south-eastern Asia extending from Pakistan to Singapore. Today the range of the Red-headed Vulture is localized primarily to Nepal and northern India where it is found in open country and in cultivated and semi-desert areas.

Status: Critically Endangered. Global Population: 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. Historically, this species has been slowly declining. In 1994 it was uplisted to Near Threatened from Least Concern by the IUCN. The widespread use of the NSAID Diclofenac in Indian veterinary medicine has caused its population to collapse in recent years. This compound is now known to be extremely poisonous to vultures. The population of this species has essentially halved every other year since the late 1990s, and what once was a plentiful species numbering in the hundreds of thousands has come dangerously close to extinction in a mere decade-and-a-half or so. Consequently it is uplisted to Critically Endangered in the 2007 IUCN Red List.

Diet: Carrion, including small dead animals neglected by other vultures.

Nesting: It performs spectacular aerial displays, the pair soaring together at a height, diving and twisting over and round one another. Mating normally takes place on a tree branch near the nest, and is accompanied, as is display, by loud roaring calls. Nests are built in trees, at any height from three to a hundred feet above the ground. They are usually situated in cultivated or inhabited areas, but sometimes in uninhabited jungle. Low bushes or Euphorbias will be used if large trees are not available. They do not nest in colonies of their own kind, but may build in the same tree as other vultures, such as White-backed Vultures. The nests are comparatively small and slight when first constructed, but are used year after year and become larger with time, up to five feet across and four feet deep. They are made of sticks, and leafy branches with the leaves on, with oddments such as pieces of skin or hair in the nest cup, which is often filthy. Both birds build the nest; the male is said to bring materials which the female incorporates in the nest. One egg is laid, a broad oval, fine in texture and smoother than other vultures' eggs, sometimes slightly glossy, plain greenish white, or pure white. Both sexes incubate; the female through the night and in the early mornings and evenings, the male through the day. Greeting ceremonies take place at change-over, accompanied by loud roaring calls. The incubation period is about 45 days.

Cool Facts: It is also known as the Asian King Vulture, Indian Black Vulture or Pondicherry Vulture.


Found in Songbird ReMix Vultures

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