Neophron percnopterus

Physical characteristics: At about 4 pounds (1.8 kilometers), the Egyptian vulture is one of the smaller Old World vultures. Their length is about 25 inches (63.5 kilometers) from bill tip to tail. They have bright yellow skin on their faces and a "mane" of white feathers on their heads. The rest of their feathers are also white, except for black flight feathers.

Geographic range: Egyptian vultures live in Africa and India year round. The birds that breed in northern Africa, Europe, and Asia, north of India, migrate to warmer areas after breeding.

Habitat: Egyptian vultures like dry, wide-open lands, including deserts, grasslands, farm fields, and pastures. They also live in cities, where people welcome them as a clean-up crew.

Diet: Like all vultures, Egyptian vultures are scavengers, eating mostly carrion, dead animals. They also eat garbage, insects, eggs, and occasionally live prey. They are famous for their ability to break open

Egyptian vultures build big, messy stick nests on rocky ledges or in caves. Where there are no rocks, they build their nests in trees. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.)

thick ostrich eggs by throwing stones at them. Very few birds know how to use tools that way.

Behavior and reproduction: Egyptian vultures usually build big, messy stick nests on rocky ledges or in caves. Where there are no rocks, they build their nests in trees. They usually lay two eggs, and, unlike most raptors, the parents regurgitate, bring up from the stomach, food to feed the chicks.

Egyptian vultures and people: An Egyptian pharaoh once made a law that anyone who killed an Egyptian vulture would be put to death. He thought the job these birds did to clean up people's waste was very important. People still value the bird for that reason. More than a century ago, the bile from Egyptian vultures' livers was made into a medicine and their skins were tanned to make leather.

Conservation status: Egyptian vultures are not threatened. ■

FOR MORE INFORMATION Books:

Bailey, Jill. Birds of Prey. New York: Facts on File, 1988.

Brown, Leslie H., Emil Urban, and Kenneth Newman. The Birds of Africa. Vol. 1, Ostriches to Birds of Prey. Princeton: Academic Press, 1982.

Burton, Philip, and Trevor Boyer. American Nature Guides, Birds of Prey. New York: Gallery Books, 1991.

Burton, Philip, and Trevor Boyer. Birds of Prey. New York: Gallery Books, 1989.

Clark, William S. Hawks of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

Dewitt, Lynda. Eagles, Hawks, and Other Birds of Prey. New York: Franklin Watts, 1989.

Erlich, Paul R., David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye. The Birder's Handbook. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.

Jones, David. Eagles. Vancouver, Canada: Whitecap Books, 1996.

Laubach, Christyna, Rene Laubach, and Charles W. G. Smith. Raptor! A Kid's Guide to Birds of Prey. North Adams, MA: Storey Books, 2003.

Miller, Sara Swan. Birds of Prey: from Falcons to Vultures. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., 2001.

Parry-Jones, Jemima. Eyewitness: Eagle & Birds of Prey. London and New York: DK Dorling Kindersley, 2000.

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. The Bald Eagle Returns. New York: Clarion Books, 2000.

Petty, Kate. Birds of Prey. New York: Gloucester Press, 1987.

Stone, Lynn M. Vultures. Minneapolis, MN: 1993.

Tarboton, Warwick African Birds of Prey. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Turner, Ann Warren. Vultures. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1973.

Weidensaul, Scott. The Raptor Almanac. New York: The Lyons Press, 2000.

Wilbur, Sanford R. and Jerome Jackson. Vulture Biology and Management. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1983.

Periodicals:

Berger, Cynthia. "Bright Lights, Bird City." National Wildlife (April/May 2001): 30-37.

Burns, Michael K. "Hawk Mountain's Lofty Mission." Baltimore Sun (November 19, 2001): 2A.

"Dressed for Dinner." National Geographic World (November 2001): 2. "Eagles." Zoobooks (October 2002): 1-17.

Eliot, John L. "A Boost for Imperial Wings." National Geographic (March 2003): 2.

Hartz, Cheryl. "Wolves of the Sky." Ranger Rick (June 1997): 4-9.

Miller, Claire. "It's Great to be Gross." Ranger Rick (October 2001): 14-19.

Miller, Claire. "Ospreys-Fantastic Fliers." Ranger Rick (March 2000): 32-37.

Relo, Mariana. "Bald Eagles Are Back." SuperScience (April 2003): 12-14.

"Saving Wildlife and Wild Places: Helping Eagles." National Wildlife (February/March 2004): 66.

Walker, Melissa. "One Morning in Our Alaskan Rainforest." Wilderness (Winter 2003/2004): 53-54.

Wexo, John Bonnett. "Birds of Prey." Zoobooks (February 2001): 1-18.

White, Mel. "Raptor Central." National Geographic Traveler (May/June 2001): 6.

Williams, Ted. "Zapped!" Audubon (January/February 2000): 32-40. Web sites:

"All About Eagles." American Eagle Foundation. http://www.eagles. org/all.html (accessed on May 27, 2004).

"Animal Bytes: Old World Vultures." Sea World. http://www.seaworld.org/ animal-info/animal-bytes/animalia/eumetazoa/coelomates/deuterostomes/ chordates/craniata/aves/falconiformes/vultures.htm (accessed on May 27, 2004).

"Bald Eagle Satellite Telemetry." The Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group. http://www2.ucsc.edu/scpbrg/research.htm (accessed on May 27, 2004).

"Explore Birds of Prey." The Peregrine Fund. http://www.peregrinefund .org/Explore_Raptors/index.html (accessed on May 27, 2004).

The Hawk and Owl Trust. http://www.hawkandowl.org (accessed on July 13, 2004).

"Hawk Watch Sites." Hawk Migration Association of North America. http://www.hmana.org/watches.php?PHPSESSID=6c88dd9d36dd435c 5bfcdec8c921afa8 (accessed on May 27, 2004).

HawkWatch International. http://www.hawkwatch.org (accessed on July 13, 2004).

Raptor Research Foundation. http://biology.boisestate.edu/raptor (accessed on July 13, 2004).

"USGS Raptor Information System" USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Snake River Field Station. http://ris.wr.usgs.gov (accessed on May 27, 2004).

World Center for Birds of Prey. The Peregrine Fund. http://www. peregrinefund.org (accessed on July 13, 2004).

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