Pseudogyps bengalensis, Gm.
5. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 10; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. III, p. 442 ; Deccan and South Mahratta country ; Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 369; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 63; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 54 ; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 26.
THE WHITE-BACKED VULTURE. Gidh, Hin.
Length, 33 to 37; expanse, 83 to 88; wing, 22 to 24; tail, 9 to 11; tarsus, 3.5 to 3.9; bill from gape, 2.65 to 2.9 ; weight, 9 to 13 lbs.
Bill horny, dusky on cere; irides red-brown; legs dusky-black.
Adult: above cinereous-black; back and rump white, beneath dark-brown; the feathers centred lighter; the short feathers of the crop deep-brown; ruff whitish, the feathers short and downy; head and neck nearly bare, with a few scattered hair-like feathers.
The young is paler, with the head and neck more or less clothed with whitish down; bill and cere horny-black; legs black; irides brown.
The White-backed is the commonest Vulture we have; it occurs in great numbers all over the country; they breed during December, January, and February, choosing lofty trees in the neighbourhood of villages, in the tops of which they make huge platform nests, sometimes as many as twelve or fourteen in a single tree. Jerdon says: " It breeds by preference on rocky cliffs." I doubt this, as I have found the nests on trees, adjacent to cliffs, in every way suitable. I have never found more than a single egg, or a single nestling, in a nest; this would seem conclusive, but others state that they lay one or two eggs.
The color of the egg is white, with a greenish tinge, and is generally much discolored; they are often spotted and blotched, with various shades of reddish-brown. The texture is moderately fine, the shell thick and strong, and the lining a deep green. They vary much in size and shape, some being moderately long ovals, while others are nearly spherical. They average 3.26 inches in length by 2.42 in breadth.