Vultures of southern Africa

The Cape Vulture (Endangered)IMG_6345

Scientific Name: Gyps coprotheres (faeces-eating vulture) (Forster, 1798)
English: Cape Griffon Vulture, Cape Vulture, Kolbe’s Griffon
AFR: Kransaasvoël

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Gyps
Species: coprotheres

“Gyps” is Greek for a vulture, while “coprotheres” is derived from the Greek word “kopros” meaning dung or manure and “thera” meaning to hunt or capture.
The Cape Griffon or Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) is an Old World vulture. It is endemic to southern Africa, and is found mainly in South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana. They nest on cliffs and usually lay one egg per year.

Distribution, Habitat and Status
Restricted to southern Africa with main colonies in South Africa and Botswana. They are now extinct as a breeding species in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Approximately 10 000 individuals’ left and 4000 breeding pairs. Breed and roost on cliff face ledges.

Distinctive Behaviour

Roosts and builds its stick-nests in colonies of several hundred birds on high cliffs, which become streaked with white droppings. Sunbathes and soars around the nest cliffs, gliding out over the surrounding country to search for carrion. They descend in large numbers to feed at carcasses, often with other vulture species. They argue over food with harsh, grating calls or stand with wings outstretched to appear larger and claim their share of the food. They are incredibly clean birds who love to bath after each meal using ponds and pools of water to splash and preen until spotless.

Appearance

Heavy, pale, long-necked vulture. Pale cream with black flight feathers. Line of dark blobs along greater wing coverts. Bill and cere black; eyes yellow, skin blue. Juvenile darker brown with pink neck skin and dark eye. Very large (about 95cm tall, 2,55m wingspan). Weight average 11kgs.

Reproduction

The female lays a single egg, and shares the responsibilities of incubation and feeding with her lifelong mate, the pair breeds in winter. In March and April the birds pair up and either re-occupy old sites or build a new nest from grass, plants and sticks. The incubation period is 54 days and duties are shared by both parents. By July most of the birds are caring for recently hatched chicks; one parent remains on the nest and waits patiently for their partners to return from foraging. It will be four months before the chicks venture out of the nest to take their first flight, this doesn’t mean that they are fully independent as they will frequently return to the nest for feeding.


The African White-backed Vulture (Critically Endangered)

_TPJ0565[1]Scientific Name: Gyps africanus (Salvadori, 1865)
English: White-backed Vulture
AFR: Witrugaasvoël

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Gyps
Species: africanus

“Gyps” is Greek for a vulture, while “africanus” is derived from the Latin word for Africa.

The African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) is an Old World vulture. Endemic to Africa, being the most widespread and common vulture in Africa. It occurs from Senegal, Gambia and Mali in the west, throughout the Sahel region to Ethiopia and Somalia in the east, through East Africa into Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa in the south and is found mainly in South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana. They nest on cliffs and usually lay one egg per year.

Distribution, Habitat and Status

Found up to 3,000m above sea level, they are endemic to Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, United Republic of Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  They are now extinct as a breeding species in Nigeria, with only one stronghold in Ghana. The species has also declined in Sudan and South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya, but is apparently more stable in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda showed short-term increases; and across southern Africa.  Classified as a lowland open species which prefer wooded savannah, particularly Acacia trees, they need tall trees for nesting and have been recorded nesting on electricity pylons in South Africa. They nest in loose colonies.  South Africa has an estimated 40,000 individuals left.

Distinctive Behaviour

White-backed vultures breed at the start of the dry season, nesting in loose colonies of 2 to 13 birds. The nest is a platform of sticks, lined with grass and green leaves, situated in the crown or fork of a large tree.  They soar and circle on thermals for hours looking for carrion and have been known to follow herds of migratory animals in search of food.  They feed in large numbers at a carcass resulting in lots of hissing and grunting to protect their share of the food.  They clean and preen themselves thoroughly after feeding and are often seen bathing and sunbathing together with other vulture species.

Appearance

Bald headed, long necked vulture. Brown to cream coloured as an adult with dark tail and flight feathers, especially noticeable from below. White rump patch and ruff. Dark neck and paler head with an all dark bill. Juvenile birds are darker. Length: 89-98 cm; Wingspan: 210-220 cm; Weight: 4,2-7,2 kg

Reproduction

The African White-backed is one of the tree nesting species of vulture that is labelled as data deficient, not much detail is known about their breeding habits and breeding success.  Research is currently being conducted by VulPro in this regard.  The female lays a single egg, sharing the incubation with her mate for around 56 days.  The pale grey chick is fed by both parents until they fledge at 120 to 130 days of age.

The Lappet-faced Vulture (Endangered)

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Scientific Name: Torgos tracheliotos (Forster, 1791)
English: Lappet-faced Vulture, Nubian Vulture
AFR: Swartaasvoël

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Acciptriformes / Falconiformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Torgos
Species: tracheliotos

“Torgos” is New Latin derived from Greek for a vulture; probably akin to Old English “storc” stork

The Lappet-faced or Nubian Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos) is an Old World vulture.  It is endemic to the Middle East and Africa, where it is found from the southern Sahara to the Sahel, down through east Africa to central and northern South Africa. They nest in large flat nests in thorny trees and usually lay one egg per year.

Distribution, Habitat and Status

Endemic throughout Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea; Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Oman, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda; United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zambia and  Zimbabwe. Thought to be extinct in Syria, Israel, Jordan and the occupied Palestinian Territory.

Lappet-faced Vulture inhabits dry savannah, arid plains, deserts and open mountain slopes, up to 3,500 m, with isolated trees such as flat-topped acacias where it may build a nest.

The African population is at least 8,000 individuals, and there may be 500 in the Middle East. This gives a total population of at least 8,500 individuals, roughly equivalent to 5,700 mature individuals. Breed and roost at the top of tall Acacia, Balanites and Terminalia trees.

Distinctive Behaviour

Is a solitary rooster and builds its stick-nests in pairs at the top of thorny trees such as the Acacia, Balanites and Terminalia trees.  They are dominant at a carcass and are able to tear the carcass open allowing other vultures to feed.

Appearance

The Lappet-faced vulture has the largest wingspan of any other vulture in Africa approx. 2.25m, they have a much shorter neck with a powerful sharp beak and bill. They are the very big vultures standing between 78-115 cm tall. They have square wings, in flight very black looking with white thighs and white bar running across leading edge of underwing. Bald, pinkish-skinned head, which changes colour with temperature or mood. Weight 4.4 – 8.5kg.

Reproduction

The female lays a single egg in a large (2m) wide nest made of twigs and shares the responsibilities of incubation and feeding with her lifelong mate, the pair breeds in winter in South Africa. Lappet-faced vultures often build only one nest, although it is also common to have one to three nests that are used alternately, and these nests are used year after year. The breeding season varies across this bird’s extensive range.

The incubation period is 54 to 56 days and duties are shared by both parents.  Chicks fledge between 125 to 135 days but will stay with the parent birds for longer.

The White-headed Vulture (Critically Endangered)

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Scientific Name: Trigonoceps occipitalis (Burchell, 1824)
English: White headed Vulture
AFR: Witkopaasvoël

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Acciptriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Trigonoceps
Species: occipitalis

The scientific name refers to the triangular shape of the head. The Greek word “trigono” and “ceps” mean ‘triangular’ and ‘head’ respectively, while the Latin “occipitalis” is a reference to the back of the head.

The Hooded Vulture (Trigonoceps) is an Old World vulture. It is endemic throughout sub-Saharan Africa, occurring from Senegal and Gambia east to Somalia and south to South Africa and Swaziland. They nest on tall tree tops and usually lay one egg per year.

Distribution, Habitat and Status

Endemic to Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, United Republic of Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  It prefers mixed, dry woodland at low altitudes, avoiding semi-arid thorn belt areas. It occurs up to 4,000 m in Ethiopia, and perhaps 3,000 m in Kenya, and ranges across the thorny Acacia-dominated landscape of Botswana. Approximately 5,500 birds are left globally. Breeds and roosts in nests on tree tops.

Distinctive Behaviour

It generally avoids human habitation. The species is thought to be a long-lived resident that maintains a territory and may generally fly lower than other vultures, often the first vulture species to arrive at carcasses. While it is often found on the periphery of vulture gatherings at large carcasses, it is also often found at small carcasses and is known to be an occasional predator of animals such as flamingos and small antelope. This vulture prefers freshly killed prey, unlike other vulture species.  At a carcass they dominate and will push all the others out of their way, except for the powerful Lappet-faced Vulture.  Unusually for vultures, they are very nimble on the ground and fights by leaping into the air and lashing out with their strong talons.  They roost at night in trees either alone or in pairs, being very shy vultures.

Appearance

78 – 85cm, stocky vulture with predominantly blackish and white plumage as an adult. Broad triangular bald head, white down on crown and nape forming a slight crest.  Bare pink skin around eyes, checks and front of the neck.  Strong hooked bill is orange with a black tip. Cere and base of the bill are blue.  Eyes are small and dull orange.  Ruffed white legs and belly separated from downy white head by its striking black breast. Black ruff. Large wings are brown with white edges in median upperwing coverts. We can see a white line along the ends of greater underwing coverts. Flight feathers and tail are black. Bare legs and talons are pinkish orange. Sexes are similar in size. Female has white inner secondaries, forming a white rectangular patch on the inner wing. Male has dark secondaries. Juvenile is dark brown with white head and brownish top of head, and white mottling on mantle. Wingspan: 2.3m; Weight: 3.3 to 5.3kg.

Reproduction

It nests and roosts in trees, most nests being in Acacia spp. or baobabs. The female lays a single egg, the egg being laid a couple of months after rains have finished and the dry season is underway. Pairs that breed have a success rate of 65-75%, however, up to 61% of pairs do not attempt to breed each year. Incubation lasts about 43 to 54 days, and is shared by both parents. Fledges at about 115 days, and is fed by parents for up to another six months.

The Hooded Vulture (Critically Endangered)

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Scientific Name: Necrosyrtes monachus (“a monk-like (bird) that drags away the dead)(Temminck, 1823) English: Hooded Vulture
AFR: Monnikaasvoël

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Acciptriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Necrosyrtes
Species: monachus

The genus name is derived from the Greek work nekros (corpse) and surtes (to pull) and refers to the feeding habits of vultures. Monachus is Latin for ‘monk’, referring to the hooded appearance.

The Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) is an Old World vulture. It is endemic to southern Africa, and is found mainly in mainly in Northern sub-saharan, Eastern and Central regions of Africa as well as South Africa. They nest in trees and usually lay one egg per year.

Distribution, Habitat and Status

Distributed throughout Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, United Republic of Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The species is often associated with human settlements, but is also found in open grassland, forest edge, wooded savannah, desert and along coasts, occurring up to 4,000 m, but is most numerous below 1,800 m. The Hooded Vulture is one of the data deficient tree nesting species which VulPro is currently researching, following evidence of declines across its range; the total population has been estimated at a maximum of 197,000 individuals.

Distinctive Behaviour

Roosts and builds its nests in Baobab trees most commonly.  The feed on insects, carrion and are known to follow ploughs to eat exposed larvae and insects, as well as making use of rubbish dumps for carrion.  The adults are very quiet and hardly vocalise.

Appearance

Smaller and shyer than other vultures, they stand between 67-70 cm, with the female being larger than the male. Small, scruffy-looking, mostly brown vulture, with long thin bill, bare crown, face and front of the neck, conspicuous ear-holes, and downy nape and hindneck. Perches hunched with wings drooping. Juveniles usually have a pale blue face and hood of short down dark brown rather than beige. Average weight 2kg and wingspan 1.6m

Reproduction

In West Africa and Kenya it breeds throughout the year, but especially from November to July. Breeding in north-east Africa occurs mainly in October-June, with birds in southern Africa tending to breed in May-December. It nests in trees and lays a clutch of one egg. Its incubation period lasts 46-54 days, followed by a fledging period of 80-130 days. Young are dependent on their parents for a further 3-4 months after fledging.  Very little is known about the species’ breeding habits, research is being conducted

The Palm-Nut Vulture (Least Concern)

Opt-6987Scientific Name: Gypohierax angolensis (Gmelin, 1788)
English: Vulturine Fish Eagle
AFR: Witaasvoël

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Acciptriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Gypohierax
Species: angolensis

Gypohierax, “gyps” is Greek for ‘griffon vulture’ and “hierax” for ‘hawk’ indicating that this is not a typical vulture. The fact that it is probably more closely related to fish eagles is also emphasized by the alternative name of Vulturine Fish Eagle.

The Palm Nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) is an Old World vulture. An Afro-tropical species (15°N to 29°S), distributed throughout west and central Africa and as far south as north east South Africa.  They nest in tall trees, in large stick nests 60-90cm in diameter and usually lay one egg per year.

Distribution, Habitat and Status

Is native to Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia; Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Current population is listed as stable. Breed and roost in tall trees.

Distinctive Behaviour

The species is sedentary with adults not moving more than a few kilometres, juveniles and immatures will wander vast distances; up to 400km.  The palm-nut vulture regularly eats vegetable matter. The fleshy husks of oil palm and raffia palm fruits, along with wild dates and other fruits, make up 58 to 65% of the adult diet and up to 92% of the juvenile’s. They also eat fish, crabs and inverterbrates, small mammals, birds and reptiles by hunting.  Occasionally takes carrion. Roosts in tall trees showing an attachment to the nest site and usually lays one egg a year.

Appearance

A smaller compact vulture, adults have white plumage overall, except the black back, secondary feathers and primary tips on the wings. The short tail is black with white terminal bar, very conspicuous in flight.  Under parts are white with the same black wing pattern as seen from above. White heads, with bare orange-red skin around the eyes and the bill.  Bill is black, fairly long and hooked with yellow cere. Eyes are yellow, legs and feet are pinkish. Female is slightly larger than male.  Juvenile has brown plumage and yellowish facial skin. Roughly 60 cm tall with a wingspan of 1.5m, weighing approximately 1.36 – 1.7kg.

Reproduction

The female lays a single egg, and shares the responsibilities of incubation and feeding with her mate, breeding occurs from October to May in West and Central Africa, from May to December in Angola, June to January in East Africa and August to January in southern Africa. The incubation period is 4 to 6 weeks and duties are shared by both parents. The chick normally fledges around 85 to 90 days.

The Bearded Vulture (Least Concern)

bearded_vulture-_CVR4877_giants_castle_south_africa-c_v_rooyenScientific Name: Gypaetus barbatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
English: Bearded Vulture, Lammergeyer, Ossifrage
AFR: Baardaasvoël

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Gypaetus
Species: barbatus

“Barbatus” is Latin for beard and the fact that this is not a typical vulture “gyps” is ‘griffon vulture’ and aetos ‘eagle’ in Greek. The outdated German name “Lammergeier” refers to the erroneous belief that this bird is able to catch lambs.

The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is an Old World vulture. It is endemic to southern Africa, widely and disjunctly distributed across the Palearctic, Afrotropical and Indomalayan regions. They nest on cliffs and usually lay one egg per year.

Distribution, Habitat and Status

Some populations are growing in Europe due to population supplementation. The species is regarded as rare and at high risk in Egypt, with an estimated few hundred pairs in Ethiopia. In 2011, there were only three nest-sites known in Kenya, and six or more in Tanzania, with the population in Uganda unknown. There are estimated to be 5-10 pairs in Morocco, and it is considered extinct in Tunisia. In southern Africa, including South Africa, the population is estimated at c.100 breeding pairs. Possibly extinct in Albania, Macedonia and the former Yugoslav Republic.  Listed as regionally extinct in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Serbia and the Syrian Arab Republic.  The species occupies remote, mountainous areas, with dangerous terrain, usually above 1,000 m.  Breed and roost on mountainous ledges.  The current global estimate is set at 2,000-10,000 individuals, roughly equating to 1,300-6,700 mature individuals.

Distinctive Behaviour

Generally not willing to compete with other vultures at carcasses and will scavenge from older carcasses if fresh meat is not available. Its main food is carrion with a large proportion of bones ingested for the marrow.  Its diet is also made up of tortoises, and occasionally also live mammals and birds. The Bearded Vulture uses “tools” to help it access the bone marrow,  bones may be eaten whole otherwise they are broken using their beaks, hammered against the ground or dropped from 50 to 80 m onto a hard rock. Tortoises are treated the same way as bones.  Their nests will be lined with scraps of skin and wool as well as pellets and sometimes rubbish.

Appearance

Adults have black wings and tail. The upper wing shows small buff streaks ending in white spots.   Neck and under parts are bright chestnut-orange, due to mineral particles, resulting from dust-bathing. The original colour is whitish. Whitish feathers on the breast, partially coloured orange and near black. Under wings and under tail feathers are grey-black. The head is whitish, with a horn-coloured hooked bill. Lores are black. The eyes are pale yellow, surrounded by conspicuous red eye-ring. But the feature which makes this raptor unmistakable is the small black “beard” of feathers, projecting below the bill base. Legs are short and grey.  Juveniles are dark brown to blackish above, with brown-black under parts. Eyes and eye-ring are reddish-brown. The beard is shorter than adults. Between 100-115 cm tall, wingspan of 2.5-2.95m, approximately 4.5-7 kg

Reproduction

They construct large nests about 1m diameter made up of branches, lined with animal remains. Nests are found on remote overhung cliff ledges or in caves and will be re-used over the years. Breeding occurs from December to September in Europe and northern Africa; October–May in Ethiopia; May-January in southern Africa; year-round in much of eastern Africa; and December-June in India. The female lays one to two eggs 4-5 days apart, the nest is incubated by both parents for 53 to 60 days, by both parents.  Both adults feed the chick which fledges between 110 to 130 days later.  It is dependent on its parents for another 7 months to a year for food.

The Egyptian Vulture (Endangered)

egyptian_vultureScientific Name: Neophron percnopterus (Linnaeus, 1758)
English: White scavenger vulture, Egyptian Eagle
AFR: Egiptiese Aasvoël

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Neophron
Species: percnopterus

Neophron, is a character in the pseudo-mythological stories of Antoninus Liberalis, who was changed into a vulture by Zeus, because of trickery. The Greek words “percnos” (dusky) and “pterus” (wing) refer to the dark flight feathers. Egyptian Vultures used to be abundant along the Nile River and were even depicted by Ancient Egyptians. Their close association with people earned them the name ‘Pharaoh’s chickens’. Found mainly in

The Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is an Old World vulture. It is found mainly in south western Europe to Northern Africa and India. They nest on cliffs and usually lay two eggs per clutch per year.

Distribution, Habitat and Status

Distributed throughout Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guinea, India, Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Territory – Occupied, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Spain (Canary Is.), Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tanzania, United Republic of Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Western Sahara and Yemen.  Regionally extinct in South Africa. The estimated global population size is 20,000-61,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 13,000-41,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.  Roosting varies around the world although they typically nest on ledges or in caves on cliffs, crags and rocky outcrops, but occasionally also in large trees, buildings (India), electricity pylons and very rarely on the ground.

Distinctive Behaviour

The Egyptian vulture is usually seen singly or in pairs, soaring in thermals, or perched on the ground or atop a building. On the ground, they walk with a waddling gait. They feed on a range of food, including mammal faeces (including those of humans), insects in dung, carrion, vegetable matter, and sometimes small animals.  A shy vulture it will wait at the edges of the feeding frenzy at a carcass until the larger species leave.  Their nests are made of sticks and lined with masses of wool, hair, rags or the remains of food, and measures 1.5 metres across.

Appearance

55-65 cm tall with a wingspan 1.55-1.70m.  Adults have largely white to pale grey plumage, which contrasts markedly with the black flight-feathers and the bold yellow bare skin on the face. The long, narrow bill has a yellow, ending with a black tip. The tail is short and wedge-shaped. The legs may be greyish-white, pink or pale yellow.  Juveniles are largely dark brown with contrasting area of pale buff. Weight 1.6 – 2.2kg.

Reproduction

The female normally lays two eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 42 days. They also both feed the chicks until fledging between 70 – 85 days.

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