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White-headed Vulture


Safaritalk's own Rainbirder shares these excellent shots helpful for identifying the White Headed Vulture and some behavioural background.




A pair of White-headed Vultures photographed in the Masai Mara in the early morning (note the full crops). Despite this image only having been taken an hour after dawn these vultures had already been out on a successful foray.




A White-headed Vulture in flight.


These vultures are loners and are also early risers -often being on the wing before thermals have formed. As a result they are often the first vultures to arrive at an overnight kill, eating their fill and departing before the throng of Gyps vultures arrive.


Like Lappet-faced Vultures these birds nest in trees and favour wooded savannah. They often set out to scan for food at first light when there are no thermals and being birds of wooded savannah there are no updrafts for them to take advantage of (unlike cliff-nesting Ruppell's Vulture). They therefore tend to fly much lower and flap their wings more than other vultures (all the White-headed Vultures I have ever seen in flight have been at a height of less than 150 metres -often much less, but I suppose that doesn't mean that they also won't cruise at altitude); they are also quite agile and frequently resort to piracy -they are said to rob Tawny Eagles and Bateleur and apparently have a reputation for robbing Marabou. I once saw one on a Dik-Dik carcass with a Tawny Eagle nearby though I have no way of knowing whether the Dik-dik was carrion or was killed by one or other bird (White-headed Vultures apparently will kill weakened/ injured smaller mammals).


Photos and text courtesy and © Safaritalk's Rainbirder.

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