White-headed Vulture

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image: WHVulture.jpg

Common Name: White-headed Vulture
Scientific Name: Trigonoceps occipitalis

Size: 30 inches (72-82 cm); Wingspan: 85 inches (207-223 cm)

Habitat: Africa; It prefers mixed, dry woodland at low altitudes, avoiding semi-arid thornbelt areas. It also occurs up to 4,000 m in Ethiopia, and perhaps 3,000 m in Kenya, and ranges across the thorny Acacia-dominated landscape of Botswana. It generally avoids human habitation.

Status: Vulnerable. Global Population: 7,000 - 12,500 mature individuals and declining. Reductions in populations of medium-sized mammals and wild hoofed animals, as well as habitat conversion throughout its range best explain current decline. Additional threats are indirect poisoning at baits set to kill jackals in small-stock farming areas, although this species is less susceptible than other vultures, owing to its broad diet. Exploitation for the international trade in raptors also poses a threat.

Diet: Wide variety of carrion; it is known to equally often hunt live prey to supplement its diet. This bird, with its strong talons unusual to members of the vulture family, is capable of tackling prey as large as flamingoes, though it will also feed on small animals such as lizards. It is even rumored that this large bird will occasionally take a small antelope.

Nesting: Females weigh more than males; they usually weigh around 4.7 kg, while males weigh somewhat under 4 kg. White-Headed Vultures build their stick-nests at the top of an acacia tree. The female lays a single egg, which she incubates for up to 43 days.

Cool Facts: The White-headed vulture often flies at lower altitudes than other vultures.

It is a mostly solitary species; this vulture does not even form large congregations at a carcass. It prefers freshly killed prey when available and will not seek out carcasses with the same fervor as its scavenging relatives. When the white-headed vulture visits a carcass, it will push all vultures out of its way, with the exception of the powerful Lappet-Faced Vulture.

Found in Songbird ReMix Vultures

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