White-rumped Vulture

White-rumped Vulture


Gyps bengalensis

HabIdentification; 76–93 cm; 3500–6000 g; wingspan 205–220 cm. Blackish, medium-sized vulture with white lower back; underwing-coverts conspicuously all white; bill and cere dark.

Habitat: Inhabits open country near villages, towns and cities, as well as parks and sanctuaries, mainly in lowlands, but ascending to 1500 m in Himalayan foothills. Often closely associated with humans, large numbers congregating in and around towns, especially by rubbish dumps and slaughterhouses.

Food & Feeding: Exclusively carrion, especially remains of cattle. Regularly feeds in company of other vultures, especially G. indicus, and also other scavengers, e.g. jackals, corvids and dogs. Carrion located by means of keen eyesight; soaring vultures also watch other flying vultures and other scavengers; when one drops to a carcass, all birds in sight follow suit, and many can gather in short time. As with other vulture species, the birds tend to gorge themselves, then rest for long period nearby, on ground or tree, while food is digested.

Breeding: Season Oct–Mar. Solitary and colonial; sometimes forms small colony in grove of trees. Large stick nest built by pair 5–30 m up in large tree, often in village, town or even city, and usually next to road, stream or canal. Display flights consist of close mutual soaring by pair. Clutch single egg (reports of two eggs probably involve two females laying in same nest); incubation by both sexes, period at least 45 days; fledging c. 3 months; period of post-fledging dependency unknown.

Population: The population has suffered exceedingly rapid decline, primarily as result of feeding on carcasses of animals treated with veterinary drug diclofenac. According to BirdLife International, the current global population estimated at 2500–9999 mature individuals, equating to c. 3500–15,000 individuals in all.

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