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Necrosyrtes monachus (Hooded vulture) 

MonnikaasvoŽl [Afrikaans]; Ekuvi (generic term for vulture) [Kwangali]; Gora (generic name for vulture) [Shona]; Lingce (generic term for vulture) [Swazi]; Koti (generic term for vulture) [Tsonga]; Kapgier [Dutch]; Vautour charognard [French]; Kappengeier [German]; Abutre-de-capuz [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Falconiformes > Family: Accipitridae

Necrosyrtes monachus (Hooded vulture)  Necrosyrtes monachus (Hooded vulture) 

Hooded vulture, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Tony Faria ©]

Hooded vulture, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Arno Meintjes ©]

Hooded vulture, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Peet van Schalkwyk ©, see also scienceanimations.com]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across much of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the lowland forest of the DRC and adjacent countries. In southern Africa it is locally common in the Caprivi Strip (Namibia), northern Botswana, north-western and southern Zimbabwe, north-eastern South Africa and central Mozambique. It generally prefers moist savanna, especially well-developed Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) woodland with scattered trees, such as Jackal-berry (Diosypros mespiliformis) and Nyala-tree (Xanthocercis zambesiaca).

Distribution of Hooded vulture in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as a host of four louse species, of which two are only found on the Hooded vulture:

  • Aegypoecus hopkinsi
  • Falcipeurus monilis

Movements and migrations

Resident and sedentary.


It is spends most of it's time scavenging, soaring high in the air until it spots a carcass, at which point it descends to the ground to feed. Once on the scene, it feeds on meat, eyes, offal and bones; if it is an old carcass it may take maggots and insects from the body. It also eats the dung of lions and humans, sometimes hawking termite alates and taking Tawny eagle and Red-billed quelea nestlings from their nests.


  • Monogamous, usually solitary nester, although it is sometimes semi-colonial; pairs probably stay together for life.
  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a compact structure of sticks with a cup set into the centre, lined with dry grass and green leaves. It is typically placed in a fork near the top of a large well-foliaged tree, especially Jackal-berry (Diospyros mespiliformis) or Nyala-tree (Xanthocercis zambesiaca), often near a river or stream.
  • Egg-laying season is from June-September, peaking from June-July.
  • It almost invariably lays a single egg, which is incubated by both sexes for about 48-54 days.
  • The chick is constantly brooded by both parents for the first three weeks or so of its life, and is fed by both parents. It leaves the nest at about 90-130 days old, becoming fully independent roughly four months later.


Not threatened globally, but Vulnerable in South Africa, as its population has recently decreased by about 10% in the country, and is now estimated to be less than 100 breeding pairs.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.