IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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Biology

Unlike most of the larger species of vulture, the red-headed vulture does not live in large groups and is most often found solitary or in a breeding pair (5). Courtship in this species is particularly acrobatic, with both the male and the female engaging in soaring and dramatic mutual cartwheeling displays. Once established, a breeding pair will actively exclude other red-headed vultures from their territory. During the breeding season (mainly December to April), each pair builds a nest at the top of a large tree or, in open areas where large trees are absent, on the top of a bush (2). The large, flat nest is constructed from sticks and lined, towards the centre, with leaves and dry grass (5). Usually a single egg is laid, with both parents sharing the incubation duties. After around 45 days the chick hatches (2). Vultures are notorious for their diet of carrion, and the red-headed vulture is no exception (2). It will feed on the carcasses of a variety of species including large ungulates, birds, turtles and fish (6). The red-headed vulture can often be found amongst the congregations of various vulture species that form around larger carcasses. In the past, it may have been excluded from feeding by larger vulture species of the genus Gyps. However, in recent years the populations of Gyps species have dramatically crashed, hence, this competitive exclusion may now be less common (4) (7). Red-headed vultures will also steal food from other vulture species, particularly the smaller Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus (2).

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Source: ARKive

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