Lesser yellow-headed vulture
|Lesser yellow-headed vulture|
|Subspecies|| C. b. burrovianus|
C. b. urubitinga
|Population||0.5-4.99 million (2008 est.)|
|Conservation status||Least concern|
The lesser yellow-headed vulture (Cathartes burrovianus) is the smallest member of the family of New World vultures (Cathartidae), and is found in Central America and northern and central South America.
Lesser yellow-headed vultures are 20 to 25 inches long and 2 to 3.4 pounds. It reaches a wing span of 5 to 5.4 feet, its tail is short and 7 to 9 inches long. Males are slightly smaller than the females. The plumage is dark; the back and upper wings are black, while below it is dark brown. While viewing in flight the bird appears black when seen from below, the wings are silvery, and the tail is gray. The head is naked, yellow or orange, forehead and neck red also, while the vertex, and sometimes also the throat are blue-gray. The scalp is wrinkled. Beaks and legs are whitish to pink. Young birds have yellowish legs, a dark head and beak, and a bright neck.
These vultures often sit on posts or other low platforms; they look for their food by flying low over the ground in a rocking glide, rarely flying high. A keen sense of smell - in addition to excellent eyesight - enables them to find carrion.
Their reproductive biology is largely unknown. In Surinam they were observed to raise their brood in hollow tree trunks. Parents with two newly fled young birds have been observed in Colombia in May.
- Cathartes burrovianus burrovianus
- Cathartes burrovianus urubitinga
Habitat and range
Lesser yellow-headed vultures prefer forest edges, moist savannahs and meadows to heights to about 3000 feet. The subspecies C. b. burrovianus is found in the coastal regions of southern Mexico, on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, in the Caribbean region of Honduras, Nicaragua and north-eastern Costa Rica, in Panama, Colombia, (except the Andean region), and in northwestern Venezuela. The range of C. b. urubitinga is the lowland areas of South America, from Venezuela to the Guyanas, Brazil, eastern Bolivia, the extreme north and south of Paraguay, the provinces Misiones and Corrientes in Argentina and adjacent regions of Uruguay.