Length: 39 inches
Weight: 15 lbs
Wing span: 106 inches
Incubation: 53 days
Life Span: 40 years
Also Called: Eared vulture or Nubian vulture
The Lappet-faced vulture is an Old World vulture that gets its name from the lappets (flat overlapping and hanging pieces)on its bare, pink head. Its feathers are mostly black and brown, but it has a white underbelly. With a wingspan of about 9 feet, it dominates other vultures when feeding.
Vultures are scavengers, meaning they eat animals that have died. Some vultures eat only large carcasses. However, the Lappet-faced vulture will also eat smaller items, including living prey. This gives them alternate food sources when carcasses are rare.
The Lappet-faced vulture is considered and Old World vulture because it comes from the "Old World", which includes Africa, Asia, and Europe. The New World vultures are found in North and South America, which is considered the "New World." The Lappet-faced vulture relies on sight alone to locate food, so heavily wooded areas pose a problem. For that reason, they prefer the open arid areas of Africa.
Some vultures are very gregarious, but the Lappet-faced vulture is not. The birds nest in pairs and do not build nests near other vultures. As a result, each pair has a large range around its nest. This prevents the vulture from having to fly long distances from food. It also decreases the number of birds that gather around a carcass.
The Lappet-faced vulture relies on its excellent eyesight to locate prey. Other ideas about the method of locating food have included telepathy and even dreams, but in reality most vultures rely on eyesight. They do not use their sense of smell.