Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)

Hooded Vulture

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Necrosyrtes monachus | [authority] Temminck, 1823 | [UK] Hooded Vulture | [FR] Vautour charognard | [DE] Kappengeier | [ES] Alimoche sombrio | [NL] Kapgier


Monotypic species


Birds of the genus Necrosyrtes are small vultures. The wings are long and broad; the tail of twelve feathers is slightly graduated. The bill is long and very slender. The head and throat are bare and brightly coloured; the lower throat, nape and hindneck are covered with short wool-like down with slightly lengthened, fluffy feathers above. The plumage mostly brown, varying only slightly with maturity. The genus contains only one species.

Physical charateristics

The Hooded Vulture is a typical vulture, with a bald pink head and a greyish ?hood?. It has fairly uniform dark brown body plumage. It has broad wings for soaring and short tail feathers. It is a small species compared to most vultures.

wingspan min.: 170 cm wingspan max.: 182 cm
size min.: 67 cm size max.: 70 cm
incubation min.: 37 days incubation max.: 43 days
fledging min.: 110 days fledging max.: 130 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Africa : widespread. The Hooded Vulture is to be found from Eritrea and the Sudan west to Senegal, and south to the Orange River and Natal.


More widespread than either the large African Griffon Vultures or the African White-backed Vulture, it is usually less numerous where all occur together. In most parts of West Africa it is far the most numerous vulture, and it is the only vulture which occurs inside the forest, because it has become to a large extent a village scavenger and is less dependent on carrion than its larger relatives. Inside forest country it is very local, not being found in every apparently suitable locality.
Although large numbers can be seen together around markets, slaughterhouses, etc., it is mostly a solitary species. Pairs are devoted to each other, roosting together outside the breeding season, often quite close to the breeding site. It is, relative to larger vultures, a rare bird in sparsely inhabited country, but is very numerous in the savannahs of West and Central Africa.


Like most of the larger vultures this species has no obvious display. Pairs soar and circle close together above the nesting area and possibly stimulate each other in this way. Mating takes place on or near the nest, usually on trees. The nest is at any height from 20-120 feet above ground; favourite trees are baobabs and silk cotton where they occur. Mangroves are used where no other trees exist. The same nest is used year after year. One egg only is laid and, if taken it is never replaced. Incubation is mainly by the female, but the male sometimes takes a small share in daylight. The incubation period is 46 days. The female is fed by the male on the nest, the food being regurgitated on to the nest edge. The young, when first hatched, is very feeble and requires close brooding. Wing quills appear through the down at fourteen days and feathers of the back at 21 days. It is feathered by about 40 days, but remains long in the nest and at 95-100 days climbs out on to branches. It flies at about 120 days. The young, after making its first flight, returns to the nest to roost for a period, but becomes independent about a month after taking wing.
Both parents take care of the young. The female broods closely up to seven days, and is not easily disturbed from the nest. The male brings food, which he regurgitates on to the nest edge, where the female may either re-swallow the food and again regurgitate to the young, or pick up small pieces and feed the young with them. In the later stages of the fledging period, after 21 days, both sexes bring food to the nest, but the male does not feed the young and stays only a few moments at each visit.

Feeding habits

Carrion and refuse of all kinds, also insects, including flying termites and locusts. Like other vultures it gets on the wing in the morning as soon as the thermals are adequate for soaring, but often earlier than its bigger relatives. It spends a lot of time on the wing, but in areas where it is common and frequents market-places, etc, even more time perched, or walking about on the ground, quite tame and unconcerned at the presence of human beings. It is a most valuable scavenger, clearing up all sorts of refuse. It will also walk about among people cultivating, e.g., rice fields, collecting large fat grubs from the newly turned earth or mud, and will feed on locusts and grasshoppers. At a carcase it cannot resist the bigger vultures, and must give way to vultures and Tawny Eagles, but it sometimes manages to get something by opportunism and by picking up scraps. 1t is also more likely to find a carcase by its own efforts than are bigger vultures, but it cannot open a large carcase and must wait until this is done by others or by decay.

Video Hooded Vulture


copyright: Dave Jackson


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Hooded Vulture status Least Concern


Sedentary with some dispersal of juveniles after fledging.

Distribution map

Hooded Vulture distribution range map

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