Palm-nut Vulture

The Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) is a very large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It is the only member of the genus Gypohierax. This Old World vulture is not related to the New World vultures which are in a separate family, Cathartidae.

It breeds in forest and savannah throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and generally prefers to be near water. Its range coincides with that of the Oil Palm. This species is quite approachable, like many African vultures, and can be seen near habitation, even on large hotel lawns in the tourist areas of countries like The Gambia.

As an adult this bird is unmistakable because its plumage is all white except for black areas in its wings. It has a red patch around the eye. Juveniles take 5 years to mature and are brown with a yellow eye patch. In flight this species resembles an eagle more than a typical vulture, and it can sustain flapping flight, so it does not depend on thermals.

This unique bird of prey gets its name from its favorite food, the nut of the Oil Palm. It will also take dead fish, however.

Birds sometimes form loose colonies. Females lay a single egg which is then incubated in a bulky stick nest in a tree for about six weeks.