Palm-nut vulture

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Palm-nut Vulture
Palm nut 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 Gypohierax
Species Information
Species G. angolensis
Population statistics
Conservation status Least concern[1]

The palm-nut vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) is a species of vulture found throughout western and central Africa. Unique among vultures, the palm nut vulture's primary diet is the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis).


The palm nut vulture is small; fully-grown adults are 24 inches long with a wingspan up to 59 inches; and weigh 2.9 to 3.7 pounds. Plumage is mostly white; black makes up large portions of the wings. Viewed from below, the secondary flight feathers are all black, with the remaining wing feathers white with the primaries tipped in black. The head is feathered to the beak, with a large patch of bare red skin around each eye.

Some 65% of the bird's diet is fruit and plant grains, of which the oil palm is the leading source. To eat it, the bird usually hangs upside-down, tearing away at the outer fleshy husk of the fruit. Raphia palm (Raphia spp.) fruit is also consumed, though less frequently. When these fruits are scarce, palm nut vultures will prey on small mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates. They will, like other vultures, feed on carcasses.

Range and habitat

Palm nut vultures are found in western and central Africa, south to northeastern South Africa. They occupy forested and wooded locations (including savannas) up to 3,500 feet, usually near oil and raffia palms. Tolerant of humans, they can be found in small towns, settlements and plantations.


Palm nut vultures build large stick nests in tall trees, up to three feet in diameter, and usually in small or loose colonies. Breeding varies by location; central Africa will see birds breed from October to May, while those birds in southern Africa breed from August to January. A single white egg is laid, with six weeks prior to hatching. The young bird is cared for by both parents until fledged; when it leaves the nest the juvenile is brown in color, and wont get the adult plumage for another four years. Until then, the juveniles are free-ranging, flying vast distances in search of food or nesting grounds. Adults are more sedentary, and will rarely fly further than a few miles from the nesting site.