Wild Birds

Lappet-faced Vultures or Nubian Vulture

The Lappet-faced Vultures or Nubian Vulture, Torgos tracheliotus is an African Old World vulture belonging to the bird order Accipitriformes, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and, hawks. It is the only member of the genus Torgos. A distinct vulture subspecies T. t. negevensis occurs in the Sinai, the Negev desert, and probably in north-west Saudi Arabia.

It is not closely related to the superficially similar New World vultures and does not share the good sense of smell of some members of that group.

Lappet-faced Vulture

 

Description

It is about 95–115 cm (37–45 in) in body length, with a wingspan of 2.5–3 m (8.2–9.9 ft). Wild vultures, of the subspecies T. t. tracheliotus, range from 4.4 to 9.4 kg (9.8–20.7 lbs) and, in East Africa, average only 6.2 kg (13.6 lbs). On the other hand, captive vultures of the slightly larger T. t. negevensis subspecies, weighed 6.5–9.2 kg (14.3–20.2 lbs) in males and 10.5–13.9 kg (23.1–30.6 lbs) in females

Like many vultures, it has a bald head. The pink (sometimes reddish) coloration is a distinctive feature. The head is bald because a feathered head would become spattered with blood and other fluids, and thus be difficult to keep clean.

 Lappet-faced Vulture

Diet / Feeding

It is a scavenging bird, feeding mostly from animal carcasses animals which it finds by sight or by watching other vultures. Large carcasses, since they provide the most subsistence at a sitting, are preferred.

Lappet-faced Vultures, perhaps more than any other vulture, will on occasion attack young and weak living animals and raid the nests of other birds. Locally, Lesser Flamingoes, among others, have been reported to be culled by Lappet-faces in this way.

They are the most powerful and aggressive of the African vultures and other vultures usually cede a carcass to the Lappet-faced Vulture. This is often beneficial to the less powerful vultures because the Lappet-face can tear through the tough hides and muscles of large mammals that the others cannot penetrate, although hyenas are even more efficient in this regard.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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