The Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) is an Old World vulture in the order Accipitriformes. It is the only member of the genus Necrosyrtes and is native to sub-Saharan Africa.
It is a scruffy-looking, small vulture with fairly uniform dark brown plumage, a long thin bill, bare crown, face and fore-neck, and a downy nape and hind-neck. It has broad wings for soaring and short tail feathers. It is a small species compared to most vultures.
Their preferred habitat is mainly open woodland and savanna, also forest edges; it is generally absent from desert and dense forest, except where it enters secondary forest, clearings, settlements and urban areas.
Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals (but unable to compete with larger species, usually taking scraps) and waste which it finds by soaring over savannah and around human habitation, including waste tips and abattoirs. It uses its relatively fine bill to pick meat from between bones after larger species have left, and also uses it to extract insects from soil and dung. It occasionally even feeds on the fruits of oil palms (Elaeis guineensis).
Unfortunately, the species has been uplisted from its previous IUCN status of endangered to critically endangered, since the species is going through a very steep decline in population, owing to various factors including poisoning, hunting, habitat loss and degradation of habitat. The global population is currently estimated at no more than 200 000 individuals.
To see this critically endangered vulture before it is too late, join us on one of our Nature Travel Birding safaris in South Africa soon!