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Hooded Vulture
Necrosyrtes monachus

Status: Critically endangered

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Indian Vulture, Neophron monachus, White Scavenger Vulture.

Necrosyrtes monachus
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical. Sub-Saharan Africa from MAURITANIA east to ETHIOPIA and south to NAMIBIA and SOUTH AFRICA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic. more....

Taxonomy: Placed by some in the genus Neophron (e.g., Britton 1980, Louette 1981, Nikolaus 1987, Gore 1990) on the basis of supposed morphological similarities. However, neither the cytochrome b gene studies of Wink (1995), nor those of Lerner and Mindell (2005), based on the sequences of two mitochondrial genes and one nuclear entron, supported such a relationship. Both found that this species is probably closer to the clade of true Old World vultures, Aegypiinae, which includes Aegypius, Gyps, Sarcogyps, Torgos and Trigonoceps, than to the Neophron-Gypaetus clade, Gypaetinae. The exact relationships of Necrosyrtes to the Aegypiinae remains uncertain, pending further study, but it probably diverged rather early (3 to 5 million years ago) from it closest relative, Gyps (Wink op cit.).

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant, with juveniles dispersing from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006). Generally thought to be largely sedentary in southern Africa (Oatley et al. 1998), but movements of ringed individuals up to 200 km have been recorded (Mundy 1997). Numbers of this species increase markedly in the northern Sahel during the short rains (July-August), and these birds return to the southern Sahel during the drier months from September to December (Thiollay 1978). more....

Habitat and Habits: In West Africa and Somalia, highly commensal with man and occurs in a wide range of open, cultivated, and urban habitats; absent only from the equatorial forest zone. In the southern portions of its range, it is much less common, less frequent around human settlements, and restricted to savanna habitats within large game reserves and national parks. Its distribution in southern Africa largely coincides with two large, well-foliaged tree species, Diospyros mespiliformis and Xanthocercis zambiaca, particularly in riparian habitats (Kemp 1969, Mundy 1997). It is also very gregarious in West Africa, but in southern Africa, it is usually found singly, in pairs, or in small groups. Squires (2004) and Steyn (2005) reported that this species associates with Wild Dogs in Botswana, and in Uganda, it often occurs in the company of Marabou Storks (Carswell et al. 2005). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on carrion, including dead fish and small mammals, bird eggs, trash, excreta, and insects, including flying termites. Soars low over open country in search of food, or perches along edges of forests and rivers. This species is airborne earlier in the day than other vultures and is often the first to find food. It is subordinate to other vulture species at carcasses. more....

Breeding: This species breeds semi-colonially in tall trees around villages in West Africa, but nests are solitary and well concealed in southern Africa. The wide spacing of the nests suggest that the species may be territorial. The nest is a stick platform placed beneath the canopy of a tree. Both adults participate in nest-building. Clutch size is one egg. The incubation period is about 51 days, and the nestling period lasts from three to four months. Fledged chicks are still dependent upon the parents for up to six more months, so the breeding cycle can occupy the entire year (Tarboton 1990). more....

Conservation: Widespread in sub-Saharan Africa except in heavily forested and very arid areas. Populations in southern Africa have suffered a marked decline in recent years. Furthermore, Rondeau and Thiollay (2004) and Thiollay (2006) recently reported a very alarming decline in numbers in several West African countries, where it has traditonally been by far the most common vulture species. The causes of the decline are still speculative. This species is now categorized as "Critically Endangered" by BirdLife International (2015). more....

Population Estimates: The total global population was estimated at 200,000-300,000 individuals by Mundy et al. (1992), but is much lower now.

Important References: 
Anderson, M.D. 2000. Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus. Pp. 71-72 in
  K.N. Barnes (ed.), The Eskom Red Data Book of birds of South Africa,
  Lesotho, and Swaziland. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.
Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol.
  1. Academic Press, London.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Hustler, K., and W.W. Howells. 1988. Breeding biology of the Hooded and
  Lappet-faced Vultures in the Hwange National Park. Honeyguide
Kemp, A.S. 1994. Hooded Vulture. P. 126 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and
  J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Lerner, H.R., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Phylogeny of eagles, Old World
  vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:327-346.
Mundy, P.J. 1982. The comparative biology of southern African vultures.
  Vulture Study Group, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mundy, P.J. 1997. Hooded Vulture. Pp. 156-157 in J.A. Harrison et al.
  (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1: Non-passerines. BirdLife
  South Africa and Avian Demography Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mundy, P.J. 2000. The status of vultures in Africa during the 1990s. Pp.
  151-164 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.
Mundy, P.J., J.A. Ledger, and R. Friedman. 1992. The vultures of Africa.
  Academic Press, London.
Piper, S.E. 2005. Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus. Pp. 486-487 in
  P.A.R. Hockey, W.R.J. Dean, and P.G. Ryan (eds.), Roberts Birds of Southern
  Africa. 7th ed. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town,
  South Africa.
Rondeau, G., and J.-M. Thiollay. 2004. West African vulture decline.
  Vulture News 51:13-33.
Steyn, P. 1982. Birds of prey of southern Africa: their identification and
  life histories. David Phillip, Cape Town, South Africa.

Sites of Interest:
Hooded Vulture photos.

jordan, lara
Kendall, Corinne
Ogada, Darcy

Last modified: 2/5/2016

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 26 Jul. 2021

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