Egyptian vulture

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Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian vulture.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Order Information
Order Falconiformes
Family Information
Family Accipitridae
Sub-family Aegypiinae
Genus Information
Genus Neophron
Species Information
Species N. percnopterus
Population statistics
Population 13,000-41,000 est. (2010)
Conservation status Endangered[1]

The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is a bird of prey from the family of Accipitridae, a group containing eagles, hawks, and Old World vultures.

Description

They are among the smallest of vultures, with a length of 19–26 inches, a wingspan of up to 64 inches, and a body weight between 4.2-5.3 pounds. The plumage is white throughout, with black primary and secondary flight feathers; the birds will generally appear to have a tan or brown appearance due to the soil, hence the name "dirt vulture" in some locations. The head is unfeathered, wrinkled and bright yellow in females, and more orange in males; apart from this slight difference there is no noticeable distinction between the sexes. The feet are bright yellow as the beak. The iris is reddish-brown. The tail is wedge-shaped.

Juveniles are initially yellowish-brown with slight spotting, which become whiter until they wear the adult plumage at about five years. The face of the young birds is gray and the iris black.

Subspecies

  • Neophron percnopterus ginginianus; Indian subcontinent west to southern Pakistan
  • Neophron percnopterus percnopterus; Africa: arid areas south of the Sahara; Namib Desert; Atlas Mountains. Europe: Spain, southern France, southern Balkan Mountains. Asia: Turkey eastward to south-central Asia.
  • Neophron percnopterus majorensis; eastern Canary Islands.

Reproduction

Egyptian vultures live sociable, but small groups. In the savannah they are often found in pairs.

Nesting takes place on cliffs and cliffs at different heights, in holes or caves or under overhanging rocks to protect against the weather. Tree nests, on the other hand, are very rare in this species. The nests are oversized for the size of the bird and are untidy, with bones, paper, ropes and other human-made debris interwoven with the sticks and branches. The interior of the nest is padded with soft materials and animal hair. Food remains of carrion produced by both parents are gathered in the nest until putrefaction. The two white eggs with some brown spots are incubated by both parents for 42 days. Young birds are fledged after about 80 days.

Diet

The basis of the food is carrion of all kinds, from the carcasses of large animals to small ones such as reptiles, fish, and insects. At the carrion feeding site in company with other vultures, their small size means they are usually the last to feed. Fruits are also consumed, but rarely. They will also appear at human dump sites; this collecting of food scraps also includes the taking of human feces; indeed the consumption of animal feces (especially ungulate feces) have led some scientists to believe that the yellow and orange facial skin coloration results from the carotenoid pigments within the fecal matter.

Egyptian vultures also consume ostrich eggs, and they are also one of the very few non-human animals to use tools, which consists of a small rock to break open the shell. Picking up the rock, they repeatedly drop it on the egg until the shell breaks. The liquid contents of the egg or the ostrich embryos are consumed on the spot.

References