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Lappet-faced Vulture

Torgos tracheliotos


The Lappet-faced Vulture is blackish above with a strongly contrasting white thigh feathers. The black feathers on the back of African vultures are lined with brown, while Arabian birds are dark brown rather than black above. The underside can range from pure white to buff-brown. Like many vultures, it has a bald head. The head coloration can range from reddish in southern Africa to dull pink in more northern Africa to pink on the back of the head and gray on the front in the Arabian Peninisula. The combination of the colorful head and fleshy folds on the side of it are distinctive. The bald head of the Lappet-faced Vulture is advantageous, because a feathered head would become spattered with blood and other fluids, and thus be difficult to keep clean. While flying, Lappet-faced Vultures have large, broad wings held with the front edges held parallel and slightly pointed, serrated-looking wingtips. Compared to the somewhat similarly-marked Hooded Vulture, it is considerably larger with a more massive bill and can only be confused at a great distance. The Gyps vultures are generally much paler, with less white lining the wings and more bulging secondaries. The Cinereous Vulture (which may overlap in range in the Arabian area) has a similar body shape but is all dark, with no contrasting plumage.

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Spotted by

Narok, Kenya

Spotted on Oct 11, 2012
Submitted on Nov 6, 2012

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