Fun Greater Yellow-headed Vulture Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
info_i
Greater Yellow-Headed Vulture Fact File

A greater yellow-headed vulture (Cathartes melambrotus) is a bird species belonging to the Cathartidae family. These New World vultures are mostly found in lowland grassland and tropical rainforest.

These birds often compete with turkey vultures over the same area in a particular habitat. A greater yellow-headed vulture feeds on carcasses and carrion, which are the dead and decaying bodies of animals.

These birds are dependant on the king vulture for their consumption of food. They often wait for the king vulture, possessing a sharp beak, to cut into the hide of the carcasses.

These birds are known to be monogamous, having a single partner throughout their lives. After mating, the female bird lays around one to two eggs inside caves or crevices.

The young receive parental care upon hatching and leave the nest at two to three months of age. These birds often fall prey to a red-tailed hawk and golden eagle. The International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List has listed the greater yellow-headed vulture as species of Least Concern.

If you liked reading this article, then do check out the collared falconet and lesser spotted eagle.

Greater Yellow-Headed Vulture Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a greater yellow-headed vulture?

The greater yellow-headed vulture (Cathartes melambrotus) is a bird of prey that belongs to the Cathartidae family. It is one of three species belonging to the genus Cathartes.

What class of animal does a greater yellow-headed vulture belong to?

These New World vultures belong to the class Aves. The scientific name of this species is Cathartes melambrotus.

How many greater yellow-headed vultures are there in the world?

The exact number of individuals present in the world is not known. These birds are known to have a decreasing trend in population.

Where does a greater yellow-headed vulture live?

These birds inhabit South America and some parts of Central America. In South America, they are found in Argentina, northern and western parts of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, the northern part of Bolivia, Venezuela, and Suriname.

They reside in large numbers in the Amazon Basin region, located in the eastern part of the Andes mountain range. In Central America, they inhabit Guatemala and Honduras. These birds generally reside up to an elevation of 2296-3280 ft (700-1000 m) from sea level.

What is a greater yellow-headed vulture's habitat?

These birds are generally found in low-lying areas of tropical forests and grassland. The tropical forests of South America include the Amazon rainforest. This habitat is characterized by high temperatures and rainfall throughout the year.

Vegetation mostly includes broad-leafed evergreen trees forming a thick canopy. They prefer residing in areas that provide sufficient shelter.

They are also found in grassland that is in close proximity to forests. These eagles inhabit mangroves and swamps. These birds are known to compete with turkey vultures, another species of the same genus, to occupy certain areas.

Who do greater yellow-headed vultures live with?

These birds, like other species of vulture, are found in groups. They usually forage, roost, and fly together in groups. Their groups are known as committee, volt, or menu.

How long does a greater yellow-headed vulture live?

The exact lifespan of these birds is not known. The average lifespan of these New World vultures can be assumed to be around 10-30 years. These birds often fall prey to a red-tailed hawk and golden eagle.

How do they reproduce?

These birds are known to be monogamous, having a single partner throughout their lives. They build their nests in crevices or caves located on a steep rocky surface or cliff. They use the same nest every year during the breeding season.

After mating, the female bird lays around one to two eggs inside the nest. The eggs are cream-colored with brown spots. The eggs are incubated by the pair for a span of 32-40 days.

After hatching, the young receive parental care from both parent birds. They are fed with partially digested food, through the bill, by the parent bird. The young leave the nest at two to three months of age.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List has listed the greater yellow-headed vulture as a species of Least Concern. However, the destruction of habitat and climate change are a few of the major threats encountered by this species.

Greater Yellow-Headed Vulture Fun Facts

What do greater yellow-headed vultures look like?

These birds possess a shiny black plumage with pale purple or green shades. The skin of their face has a distinct yellow shade, while that of the cheeks and necks are orange in color.

The feathers on the underside of the large wings are black. They have a pinkish-white bill, a bluish crown on the head, and red eyes. Their legs and feet are pinkish-red in color.

Greater Yellow-Headed Vulture

How cute are they?

These birds are not considered to be cute. However, bird enthusiasts might find them fascinating and majestic to watch while the birds are in flight.

How do they communicate?

These birds do not possess syrinx, a necessary vocal organ in birds that helps to produce sound. They do not communicate through calls. They generally communicate through rattling sounds, hisses, or grunts. Their olfactory sense and vision also help to perceive their surroundings.

How big is a greater yellow-headed vulture?

This bird is around 29-31.8 in (74-81 cm) in length. It is larger than a black vulture which is 22-29 in (56-74 cm) in length.

How fast can a greater yellow-headed vulture fly?

The exact speed of this species of bird is not known. However, they have a steady flight with their wings held in a horizontal position.

How much does a greater yellow-headed vulture weigh?

A greater yellow-headed vulture (Cathartes melambrotus) weighs around 3.6 lb (1.65 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female birds of this species are commonly referred to as male greater yellow-headed vulture and female yellow-headed vulture.

What would you call a baby greater yellow-headed vulture?

A baby greater yellow-headed vulture is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

Yellow-headed vultures feed on dead bodies or carcasses of animals. Their diet also includes decaying dead bodies of animals known as carrion. They locate carcasses using their powerful olfactory sense and vision.

These birds do not have a very sharp beak, so they are often dependent on a king vulture, possessing a sharp beak, to make the initial cut on the hide or skin of carcasses. They later feed on this half-eaten flesh left by the king vulture. These birds are also known to prey on insects.

Are they dangerous?

No, these birds should not be considered dangerous. They often compete with other species over occupying a particular area. They mostly feed on dead animals and do not impose any threat to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

There has been no record of keeping this species of bird as a pet. It is also illegal to own vultures in many parts of the world.

Did you know...

This bird was first identified by John Cassin, an American ornithologist, in 1845.

What is the difference between greater yellow-headed vultures vs lesser yellow-headed vultures?

Lesser yellow-headed vultures differ from greater yellow-headed vultures with regard to their size, coloration of plumage, and head. Lesser yellow-headed vultures have a smaller size, smaller wingspan, and their heads are more orange-tinted in comparison to the yellow-tinted heads of greater yellow-headed vultures.

They also have a brownish plumage while greater yellow-headed vultures possess a black plumage with pale green or purple shades.

How tall do vultures get?

These birds can be around 48 in (121.9 cm) tall. Their height differs from one species to the other.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our black woodpecker facts or grey kestrel facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable yellow-headed vulture coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

Read full bio >