Deep Dive: Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture

by OBDK on November 28, 2022

Many of the vultures we’ve spoken about in this series are listed as critically endangered. However, the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture is considered to be of least concern.1 They can be found in Mexico and down through Central and South America.2 Their feathers are black, and they have yellow heads. There may be some patches of red or blue on their heads, too.3
These vultures can be found in savanna habitats.3 They have a great sense of smell and will often fly low over the ground when they’re hunting for food. Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures don’t make a lot of noise unless it’s breeding season, and then they’ll make many hissing and grunting noises.2
These new world vultures are about 21-26 inches tall, have a wingspan of about 60-65 inches, and weigh between 2 and 3.5 pounds.1&2 It’s easy to mistake these birds for the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture or the Turkey Vulture. The Lesser and Greater Yellow-headed Vultures were thought to be the same species until the 1960s. The Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture also tends to fly similarly to Turkey Vultures.1
Just like other raptors, these vultures feed on carrion. They’ll go after fish, foxes, and a variety of roadkill.1 Unlike other vulture species, whose main threat is humans, the main threat to these birds is ravens and mammals going after their young in the nest.2

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