The hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) is an Old World vulture in the order Accipitriformes, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is the only member of the genus Necrosyrtes and is native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is a scruffy-looking, small vulture with dark brown plumage, a long thin bill, bare crown, face and fore-neck, and a downy nape and hind-neck. It typically scavenges on carcasses. Although this is a common species, numbers of these birds are decreasing rapidly. Threats include poisoning, hunting and loss of habitat, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as "critically endangered".
The hooded vulture is a typical vulture, with a head that is usually white, but flushes red when agitated and a greyish “hood”. It has fairly uniform dark brown body plumage. It has broad wings for soaring and short tail feathers. It is a small species compared to most vultures. Female Vultures of the hooded variety are also often seen to have longer eyelashes than the males which is rather amusing. They have strong feet and are monogamous creatures.
It breeds in a stick nest in trees (often palms) in much of Africa south of the Sahara, laying one egg. Birds may form loose colonies. The population is mostly resident. This is one of the smaller vultures of the Old World. They are 62–72 cm (24–28 in) long, have a wingspan of 155–165 cm (61–65 in) and a body weight of 1.5–2.6 kg (3.3–5.7 lb).
Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals and waste which it finds by soaring over savannah and around human habitation, including waste tips and abattoirs. It often moves in flocks, and is very abundant. In much of its range, there are always several visible soaring in the sky at almost any time during the day.
This vulture is typically unafraid of humans, and frequently gathers around habitation. It is sometimes referred to as the “garbage collector” by locals.
The species has been uplisted from its previous IUCN status of endangered to critically endangered, since the species is going through a very steep decline in population, owing to various factors including poisoning, hunting, habitat loss and degradation of habitat.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Necrosyrtes monachus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
The hooded vulture is possibly the vulture in the controversial picture of the starving child.It is unlikely that it was going to predate the child but due to their relations with humans as scavengers of scraps, its more plausible that the bird was expecting food off the child.The hooded vultures beak is not as powerful or as hooked as the gyps vultures so if it were to consume human flesh it would not eat it until the flesh has rotted before it could feed due to its relatively weak beak.
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- Hooded vulture - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.