Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Vulture gone Nuts: Palm-nut Vulture

I was preparing for the trip to Uganda and came across this bird in my book - Palm-nut Vulture. I thought it is an odd name. Odd ? Come off it - of course it was Very Very Odd... Its a fairly small bird, infact the smallest of the Vultures in East Africa. Don't get fooled by that - this small bird is still 60cm (24 inches).

It is a boldly marked black and white raptor with large black patches with white tipped black tail. It also has a funny hunched position while sitting and has a long and large bill with bare pink skin around the eyes.
All said and done - the bird was majestic...
Coming back to the story of the bird's name - Palm-nut Vulture. The range of the bird is fairly large and coincides with the Palm Oil Plantation and the range. Surprisingly - inspite of being a vulture - 65% of its diet consists of fruits of Oil and raffia palms as well as grains of other plants. In addition to this if will take fish, invertebrates, amphibians as well as small mammals, birds and reptiles. It behaves like a vulture feeding on small carcasses too.
This is a chance shot of the bird passing overhead. Notice the fish in it's claws

A bird near lake Victoria as we drove from Entebbe

Sam bird as above...
This birds is not persecuted, but gets affected by habitat loss - particularly in West Africa due to expansion of oil palm plantation that gives it limited opportunities to nest and as a result of harvesting. Infact the major threat now that remains with the most of the birds is the rapidly changing environment in the hands of humans who don't care a damn - considering it a birth right to profit out of whatever means possible.

All the same coming back to the bird - it was a great sighting - that happened on majority of our stay days in Uganda and though photographing of this bird was not very easy as the perch points were generally very high up in the trees.

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