Birds of Morni: Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vulture/Pharaoh’s Chicken (Neophron percnopterus) – a small white vulture that can be seen gliding gracefully in pairs on thermals during the warm hours. The under-wing has a distinctive black edge. The face is unfeathered and bright yellow. This bright yellow-orange facial colour is attributed to the organic pigments obtained from feeding on faeces of deer etc! Legs are pink. Bill is black. It feeds on dead animals and also preys on small mammals, birds, reptiles etc. It occurs in low hills and Himalayas upto 2000 metres. Its numbers have experienced a precipitous decline all over the world that is attributed to veterinary use of diclofenac sodium.

It was a symbol of royalty in ancient Egypt and was protected by the pharaohs. Vedagiriswarar temple (Eagle temple) near Mahabalipuram in Tamil nadu is famous for having been visited by a pair of Egyptian vultures for past several centuries before noon to be fed by the temple priests!

Egyptian Vulture, flying over Ghaggar valley,Morni hills
Egyptian Vulture, flying over Ghaggar valley, Morni hills (August 2013)
Egyptian Vulture (Juvenile), Rasoon, Morni, September 2012 (Photo Courtesy- KS Bains)
The graceful flight of Egyptian vulture
The graceful flight of Egyptian vulture