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Egyptian Vulture
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Neophron percnopterus
ORDER: Falconiformes
FAMILY: Accipitridae
RANGE: Africa, India and southern Europe
HABITAT: open plains, savannas, forests, coastal areas and villages
DIET: carrion, insects, eggs and will even scavenge garbage

The Egyptian vulture is a small white bird, with black flight feathers, a bare yellow face and an untidy feather mane cascading from the head and neck. The feet are weak and more adapted for running than for climbing or grasping. Carrion and scraps are usually the main food, however, the bird is known to take a stone in its bill and hurl it at an ostrich egg until the shell cracks open. The immature birds are plain brown and easily confused with a number of other vultures. The diamond-shaped tail is diagnostic, especially in flight.

Both sexes build an untidy stick nest in rock clefts and crevices on narrow ledges that provide a view of the surrounding territory. The female lays one or two white or pinkish eggs, which hatch in about 42 days. The chicks are fed by regurgitation, by both parents. The young birds leave the nest at about three months and soar with their parents in search of food.

The Egyptian vulture, the most common vulture in the Old World, is sometimes called “Pharaoh’s Chicken” because one of the early pharaohs forbade anyone to kill an Egyptian vulture under pain of death. He reasoned the clean-up job these birds did was too important to lose even one bird.