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Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Cathartes burrovianus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Cathartes urubitinga, Savanna Vulture, Yellow Headed Vulture.

Cathartes burrovianus
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Distribution: Neotropical. Eastern MEXICO south locally through Central America and South America east of the Andes south to northern ARGENTINA and URUGUAY. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. C. b. burrovianus: Eastern and southern MEXICO (Tamaulipas, both slopes of Oaxaca), BELIZE, GUATEMALA (Petén), eastern HONDURAS, eastern NICARAGUA, and COSTA RICA south through PANAMA (both slopes) to central COLOMBIA and northwestern VENEZUELA; C. b. urubitinga: Lowland SOUTH AMERICA east of the Andes from southeastern COLOMBIA and eastern and central VENEZUELA (Orinoco Basin) south to eastern PERU (Iquitos), ARGENTINA, PARAGUAY, and URUGUAY. more....

Taxonomy: Regarded as a superspecies with C. melambrotus by Amadon and Bull (1988), but they are widely sympatric (Houston 1994), although occurring in different habitats. Formerly erroneously called C. urubitinga (Pinto 1938, Hellmayr and Conover 1949, Wetmore 1950), but the name burrovianus was shown to have priority (Stresemann and Amadon 1979).

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant (Bildstein 2006). Seasonal changes in numbers have been reported from Belize (Clinton-Eitniear 1985), eastern Mexico (Ramos 1986), Oaxaca, Mexico (Binford 1989), Honduras (Monroe 1968), Panama (Ridgley and Gwynne 1989), Colombia (Koester 1982), and Venezuela (Friedmann and Smith 1950, Hilty 2003). Migratory flocks, probably originating in austral South America, have also been reported from Brazil, including many hundreds seen flying from northeast to southwest near Tapes, Rio Gande do Sul in April (Sick 1993).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands in brackish and freshwater marshes, wet savannas and grasslands, mangroves, second-growth scrub, wooded margins of rivers, and vicinity of ranches in some areas.  Usually seen singly, or as scattered individuals, but sopmetimes in large groups of 10 or more individuals. Holds wings in a dihedral pattern like the Turkey Vulture, and this species also uses olfactory cues for locating food items. Belton (1984) noted that Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures soar lower over the ground than Turkey Vultures. Perches on shrubs, fenceposts, or on the ground. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on fishes and reptiles. Often feeds singly on small carcasses, but birds may aggregate in areas with good feeding opportunities, e.g., behind farm equipment (Pyle and Howell 1993). more....

Breeding: No nest built, and eggs are typically laid on the ground in desnse grass or in the hollow of tree. Clutch size is 2 eggs, which are creamy-white with heavy splotches of brown, gray, and rufous. Eggs are laid at an interval of two days. The incubation period at an Argentine nest was 40 days, and the nestling period was between 70-75 days (Di Giacomo 2005).

Conservation: Widespread and locally common in suitable habitat, and population probably increasing in some regions as a result of deforestation.Schlee (2000) recommended that this species be placed on CITES II, but this conservative view does not coincide with that of Márquez Reyes et al. (2000) or other recent authors. BirdLife International (2007) categorizes Cathartes burrovianus as a species of "Least Concern."more....

Important References: 
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Houston, D.C. 1994. Family Cathartidae (New World vultures). Pp. 24-41 in
  del Hoyo, J, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of
  the world. Vol. 2. New World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions,
  Barcelona, Spain.
Schlee, M.A. 2000. The status of vultures in Latin America. Pp. 191-206 in
  R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors at risk. World Working
  Group on Birds of Prey, Berlin, and Hancock House, Blaine, WA.
Wetmore, A. 1964. A revision of the American vultures of the genus
  Cathartes Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 146:1-48.

Sites of Interest:
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture photos.
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account with emphasis on Brazil.

Eitniear, Jack Clinton
Lambertucci, Sergio

Last modified: 5/8/2014

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture Cathartes burrovianus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jul. 2020

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