At one time it was believed to be closer to the white-backed vulture of Africa and was known as the Oriental white-backed vulture. The species was present in large numbers, in Southern and South-eastern Asia until the 1990s and declined rapidly in numbers since; up to 99.9% between 1992 and 2007.
Size of White-Rumped Vulture
White-rumped vulture is a typical, medium-sized vulture, with an unfeathered head and neck, very broad wings, and short tail feathers. It is much smaller than the Eurasian Griffon. It has a white neck ruff. The adult has the whitish back, rump, and under wing coverts contrast with the otherwise dark plumage. The body is black and the secondaries are silvery grey.
Head and Bill of White-Rumped Vulture
The head of White-rumped vulture is tinged in pink and bill is silvery with dark ceres. The nostril openings are slit-like. Juveniles are largely dark and take about four or five years to acquire the adult plumage. In flight, the adults show a dark leading edge of the wing and have a white wing-lining on the underside. The under tail coverts are black.
Nests of White-Rumped Vulture
White-Rumped Vulture builds its nest on tall trees often near human habitations in northern and central India, Pakistan, Nepal, and south east Asia, laying one egg. Birds form roost colonies. The population is mostly resident.
Behaviour of White-Rumped Vulture
White-Rumped Vulture is usually inactive until the morning sun has warmed up the air with sufficient thermals to support their soaring. They circle and rise in altitude and join move off in a glide to change thermals. Large numbers were once visible in the late morning skies above the cities of India. The trees on which they regularly roost are often painted white with their excreta and this acidity often kills the trees. This made them less welcome in orchards and plantations.
Jungle crows have been seen to steal food brought by adults and regurgitated to young. They may sometimes feed on dead vultures of their own species while Egyptian vultures have also been noted to feed on dead vulture fledglings.
Residence of White-Rumped Vulture
White-Rumped Vulture was originally very common especially in the Gangetic plains of India, and often seen nesting on the avenue trees within large cities in the region.