Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)



The Hooded Vulture is true Old World Vulture and monotypical to the genus of Necrosyrtes. As such it is a native to the African continent where we find it in two different variations. By size and wingspan this vulture is a rather smallish version of a vulture. This vulture is a social birds, breeds colonial and lays only one egg per breeding season.



Geographical Variation

  • Necorsystres monachus monachus: from West Africa to Sudan and north Uganda
  • Necrosyrtes m. pileatus: from East Sudan and Ethiopia southwards through East Africa to Angola and South Africa. This variation is very similar in appearance to N. m. monachus, though slighly larger, longer wings and longer tails and tarsi. With the exception of northern populations it is much less gregarious and does not as closely associate with people. It sticks to its natural habitat and feeding behaviour.



Description - Characteristics: Hooded Vulture


Breeding – Clutch – Measurements – Habitat – Diet - Threats



Order: Accipitriformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Necrosyrtes

Species: Hooded Vulture


Scientific Name: Necrosyrtes monachus


Names and Synomys of the Hooded Vulture


Name in German: Kappengeier

Name in French: Néophrone moine

Name in Dutch: Kapgier

Name in Italien: Capovaccaio pileato

Name in Finnish: Huppokorppikotka

Name in Swedish: Munkgam

Name in Polish: Sęp brunatny

Name in Russian: Бурый стервятник


Description of the Hooded Vulture


Distribution: Afrotropical. Generally scarce south of the equator common north of equator. Common in sub-Saharan Africa: from Senegal and south Mauretania through southern Niger and Chad to southern Sudan, Ethiopia and west Somalia and from there southwards to northern Namibia and Botswana, through Zimbabwe to south Mozambique northeastern South Africa; except for unbroken forest.


Movements: Mostly nomadic movements of immatures, adults are sedentary.


Habitat: Often commensal with humans and therefore appears in settlements and urban areas, scavaning at abattoirs, rubbish dumps, market places; also numerous at open grassland and wooded savannah, appears also in desert and coastal flats. In Kenya and Tanzania also common in open or well-wooded country, on forest edges. Usually wates for scraps at cattle-pens and small vilalges. In Southern Africa rural settlements and built-up areas are avoided. Settles in medium mountain ranges up to sealevels of 1,800 m, search flights at altitudes of 3,000 to 4,000 m.


Behaviour: South of the equator mostly solitary and appears in small parties only. Hooded Vultures appear at carcases in groups of up to 50 individuals. Likes gathering at abattoirs and any sort of abandoned food sources. Then perching in trees in numbers. The Hooded Vulture has the ability to tear muscle and fat from bones and even to tear skin of the meat. Gives way to larger vultures at food sources. Ability to run and walk, but lacks any ability to cut living animals. Hunts for insects in cases of insufficient food. It appears that Hooded Vultures are not very shy because they tend to approach humans at close range. Also follow farmers behind the plow to retrieve insects from the ground. Very good flight abilities. Mostly first vulture to arrive at food sources.


hooded vulture egg
Egg of the Hooded Vulture - Source: Didier Descouens - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16432210




Size: 54-66 cm

Tail: 21-24 cm

Weight: 1,500-2,600 g

Wingspan: 150-180cm


nördlicher Kappengeier: 467-500 mm

östlich-südlicher Kappengeier: ♂ 480 mm - ♀510 mm


Voice: mostly silent, utters squealing and chittering sounds at food and nest.

Sexually Mature: Probably not before 3rd to 4th year.

Mating: Lifelong monogamous breeding pair. Courtship coincides with building and moving into the nest. Time varies according to geographical region.


Clutches per breeding season1 clutch




Breeding: West Africa and Kenya mostly between November – July; northern Africa mainly between October to June, southern Africa May to December – mostly April to June; Senegal to Gambia December – February/March.


Nest: Colonial. Small nest made of sticks measuring 50-100 cm across and 20-75 cm deep. Nest lined with leaves, grass, hair, skin and rags; sits in subcanopy fork on tall trees such as palm, ebony or any other tree. Only rarely on cliffs or buildings.


Clutch: 1egg

Eggs: elliptical creme-coloured egg with reddish-brown staints usually massed on one pole.


Egg Measurements and Weights

Length x Width: 74.0x53.0 mm – East Africa; 71.9x54.9 mm – South Africa(n=100)

Weight: ≈ ??? g


Recurrent Clutch: No recurrent clutches after early loss of clutch (Balsac, cited in W. Fischer).


Incubation: ≃ (46-)48-54 days, both parents share the task of incubating, the ♂ is reported to sit on the nest during lunchtime.


Fledging: Fledging after c. 80-90 days. Though, it is known that the young vulture already leaves the nest before plumage is fully grown. At the time of leaving the nest the young deos not have any flight ability but already consumes all fodd it can access. At the shore the young vultures they scan the beach for washed up fish and crabs.





Food: Processes cadaver, carcases, carrion, insects and bones.


Longevity: unknown.


Mortality: unknown.


Threats: Natives proof to be protective of the Hooded Vultures, obviously the vultures are deemed necessary for daily life.






Brown, Leslie, Die Greifvögel, Ihre Biologie und Ökologie, Paul Parey Verlag Hamburg und Berlin, 1979

Cramp, Stanley (HG) et al, Handbook of the birds of Europe the Middle East and North Africa, Volume II Hawks to Bustards, Oxford University Press Oxfort London New York, 1980

Ferguson-Lees, James, Christie, David, Raptors of the World, A Field Guide, Christopher Helm London, 2005, reprinted 2019

Ferguson-Lees, James and Christie, David A., Raptors of the World, Houghton Mifflin Company Boston New York, 2001

Fischer, Wolfgang, Die Geier, Die Neue Brehm-Bücherei, A. Ziemsen Verlag Lutherstadt Wittenberg, 1963

Glutz von Blotzheim, Urs et. al (HG), Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 4, Falconiformes, AULA-Verlag Wiesbaden, 2. durchgesehene Auflage 1989

Grzimek, Bernhard et al (HG), Grzimeks Tierleben, Band VII, Vögel 1, Kindler Verlag AG Zürich, 1968

Weick, Friedhelm, Die Greifvögel der Welt, Verlag Paul Parey Hamburg und Berlin, 1980



External Links


Hooded Vulture, "Hooded Vulture". www. oiseaux-birds.com retrieved 2021_04_19


Image Credits


Egg of the Hooded Vulture: By Didier Descouens - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16432210