A rare and critically endangered Egyptian vulture, Neophron percnopterus, was spotted in Kannankurichi Lake here recently.
A. Kasi Viswanathan, a birder, spotted and photographed a lone juvenile Egyptian vulture soaring above the lake.
He said that it was totally an unexpected sighting as they look very different in juvenile and adult phases of life.
The adult bird looked dirty white with bare yellowish face and had black flight feathers. The juvenile bird looked all black and attained the adult plumage as it matured, he added.
Vulture conservationist S. Bharathidasan of Arulagam that works towards the conservation of fauna and flora in the State said that the population of Egyptian vultures was more than crows several decades ago. However, their numbers dropped alarmingly and today it was the rarest resident vulture species in the State. Apart from feeding on dead animal carcasses, these vultures feed on larvae in the cow dung.
S.V. Ganeshwar of Salem Ornithological Foundation said the other and only evidence for previous published sighting of the Egyptian vulture around Salem comes from a statement in the Vernay Scientific Survey of the Eastern Ghats, conducted in 1929 that reported a single bird on the Chitteri plateau. “Today, most of the Chitteri range falls outside Salem’s boundaries,” he added.
Mr. Kasi Viswanathan said the sighting was uploaded in eBird, an international database to document birds and was approved by ornithologists.