Hooded vulture

Necrosyrtes monachus

Hooded vultures are common across sub-Saharan Africa. Habitats include open plains, savannas, forests, coastal areas and villages. They are carnivores.

The scientific name, Necrosyrtes monachus, means a "monk-like (bird) that drags away the dead." The common name derives from the wool-like down that covers the lower throat and rear of the neck. Old World vultures (from Asia, Europe and Africa), such as the hooded vulture, are not closely related to vultures from North and South America.

Hooded vulture behavior and facts

  • Hooded vultures are scavengers and carrion-eaters. Because of their relatively small size and weak bill, they generally wait at a carcass to pick up scraps left by larger vultures. In urban areas, they scavenge in refuse dumps and gutters. On seashores, they feed at low tide on mussels, spiny lobsters, mollusks or dead fish. They also eat grasshoppers, grubs and locusts.
  • Because they are smaller than other African vultures, the hooded vulture can rise on thermals more quickly and is often the first to spot a carcass.
  • The hooded vulture often follows humans in agricultural fields, picking out grubs and insects exposed by plows.

From birth to death

  • Mated pairs roost together during and after the breeding season.
  • Nests are built of sticks and lined with green leaves 20-120 feet high in a tree. They are used year after year.
  • A single egg is laid.
  • Incubation: 46 days. The male provides the female and chick with food while the chick is young and needs constant tending. After about 3 weeks the chick can be left alone and both parents find food for it.
  • Fledge: 120 days
  • Lifespan: 20 to 25 years; 25 to 30 years in captivity

Vital statistics

  • Length: females 24 to 26 inches; males 22 to 24 inches
  • Weight: males 45 pounds; females are slightly larger
  • Wingspan: 5 feet


Not listed

Hooded vultures, the Oregon Zoo and you

Pierre the hooded vulture was hatched in 2002 at the Pittsburgh Zoo and arrived at the Oregon Zoo soon afterwards. He flies over audiences as part of the zoo's free Wild Life Live! shows on summer days.