Birds of Morni: Indian White-backed Vulture

February 7, 2013

Indian White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) is a medium-sized vulture (about 3′ in length and wingspan of about 8′) with a bare pink-grey head and an unfeathered neck and a prominent white ruff or tuft at the base of the neck. The plummage is dark but the back and the rump are whitish. In flight, the bird can be made out from prominent white patches on the underside enclosed by dark edges and a dark body and tail. A scavenger that feeds on carcasses, roosting in colonies and nesting in tall trees. The bird can be seen conducting reconnaissance of its area as it glides on the thermals produced by the morning sun. Voracious eaters, they can clean-up a large carcass in minutes as they descend in a pack. A ‘hygiene’ conscious bird that bathes regularly! The excreta ia acidic and may kill the tree they roost on. The species has seen a precipitous fall in numbers due to use of diclofenac in treating sick-animals that stays in the carcass and damages the bird’s kidneys. It is one of the species that is being bred at the Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre of BNHS at Bir Shikargarh forest, Pinjore.

Indian White-backed Vulture, Mallah, Morni-Pinjore (Photo Courtesy – Rajesh Pandey)

Indian White-backed Vulture- underside withcharacteristic white patch on wings

Indian White-backed Vulture- underside withcharacteristic white patch on wings

 

Filed in: Birds

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An environmental enthusiast who loves tramping through the hills in search of the picturesque.

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