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#164 Red-headed Vulture

Critically Endangered

This is a male, the females have dark eyes. They are a mid-sized vulture with a wingspan up to 8 1/2 feet. By comparison, the largest wingspan for a vulture is that of the Cinerous vulture at a little over 10 feet. Most of the red-headed vulture's rang is in India. Unfortunately the use of Diclofenac , an NSAID, in veterinary practice has inadvertently killed many many vultures. When they feed on livestock that was treated with it, they die. The red-headed vulture's numbers plummeted, and it came very close to extinction. They were listed as critically endangered in 2007 after having lost about 90% of their numbers in 10 years. Unfortunately it is also hunted in places like Cambodia where poison is set out for them. They are monogamous and lay an egg a year. Unlike most other vultures, they are typically solitary or live in pairs. Their generation length is 15 years. Generally what that pertains to is how long before the mother gives birth to an offspring, not how long they live. I cannot find anything to tell me exactly how long these live, I'm not sure they've been well studied. Many vultures though can live up to 50 years, so with a generation length of 15 years, it is not unreasonable to assume these live 40 years or more.

I told my son that because his birthday is coming up, I looked up critically endangered animals with red-head in the name. I mentioned I wasn't sure I wanted to do a vulture to celebrate his birthday with. He said he'd have been fine with a vulture, but that just seemed wrong to me. I was giggling an awful lot while painting this though, and he makes me smile and laugh all the time so maybe I should have waited. The reason I kept laughing while painting this is for some reason I find birds that can fly absolutely hilarious when they are walking, especially when it looks like they are really on the move. The paintings I do that make me smile because the animal just seems to almost ooze with personality are absolutely my favourites. I think this is one of the reasons I did not really enjoy doing portrait photography. People don't typically want pictures of them to make you laugh, their objective is to look good, which is not always my goal.

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