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GALLERIES > BIRDS > FALCONIFORMES > ACCIPITRIDAE > LAPPET-FACED VULTURE [Torgos tracheliotos]


Lappet-faced Vulture Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The Lappet-faced Vulture or Nubian Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos) is a mostly 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 subspecies T. t. negevensis occurs in the Sinai, the Negev desert and probably 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. 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.

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.

Lappet-faced Vulture

It is about 1.15 meters (3.8 ft) in body length, with an average wingspan of 2.8 meters (9.2 ft). Wild vultures can range from 4.4 to 9.4 kg (9.8-20 lbs). There are some records of birds as heavy as 15 kilogram (33 pounds), but these are believed to be overfed, zoo-kept specimens of the larger T. t. negevensis subspecies. 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 hyaenas are even more efficient in this regard.





                                     



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