Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Palm Nut Vulture|
The Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) is a very large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards and harriers. It is the only member of the genus Gypohierax (Rüppell, 1836).
It breeds in forest and savannah across sub-Saharan Africa, usually near water, its range coinciding with that of the Oil Palm. It is quite approachable, like many African vultures, and can be seen near habitation, even on large hotel lawns in the tourist areas of countries like The Gambia.
This is an unmistakable bird as an adult. Its plumage is all white except for black areas in its wings. It has a red patch around the eye. The immature, which takes 5 years to mature, is brown with a yellow eye patch. In flight this species resembles an eagle more than a typical vulture, and it can sustain flapping flight, so it does not depend on thermals.
This vulture gets its name from its favourite food, which, uniquely for a bird of prey, is not meat, but the nut of the Oil Palm. It will also take dead fish.
Birds may form loose colonies. A single egg is incubated in a bulky stick nest in a tree for about six weeks.
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