Otogyps calvus, Scop.
2. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 7 ; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. III, p. 441 ; Deccan and South Mahratta country ; Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 369; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 62 ; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 53; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 8.
THE INDIAN KING VULTURE. Lal Siri Gidh, Hin.
Length, 30 to 33; expanse, 80 to 88 ; wing, 22.5 to 24 ; tail, 9.8 to 11; tarsus, 4.3 to 4.6 ; bill from gape, 2.6 to 3.
Bill black; cere naked; head and neck deep yellowish-red, more or less spotted with black ; irides red-brown ; legs dull-red.
Dark brown-black, lighter on lower back and rump, brownish on scapulars and some of the secondaries ; quills black ; tail black, shaded with brown; crop-patch black, a zone of white downy feathers across the breast; beneath deep-black; inner side of thigh bare, with a patch of white above the joint.
The Indian King Vulture, or, as Jerdon prefers to call it, the Black Vulture, has been recorded from all parts of the region. It is not uncommon as a rule, but only occurs singly or in pairs, rarely more than two being seen together. It is of a very pugnacious disposition, and admits of no companionship, more especially when feeding. I have often seen a score or more of Gyps fulvescens, or other Vulture, patiently waiting until his kingship had gorged himself on a dead cow or other carcass before they dared approach. It is, I believe, a permanent resident, breeding wherever found. Jerdon states that "it is said to breed usually on inaccessible cliffs." Murray also states that "it is said to do so in Sind." This is contrary to my experience, and it may perhaps be noticed that neither of them speak from their own personal knowledge. I found a nest near Deesa in February; it was a large, compact, cup-shaped structure, composed of twigs, placed in a thick thorny ber-bush, about ten feet from the ground. Later I found two others in similar situations. The locality where I found these nests was a rather extensive plain, studded with ber-bushes, with occasional high trees dotted here and there, and on one side was a range of hills, offering splendid sites to a cliff building bird, which however they did not avail themselves of. In Central India I have found the nests on lofty trees. The egg :- there is only one :- is pale greenish-white when first laid, but after a time, as incubation proceeds, it becomes more or less stained by the droppings of the parent birds. The texture is moderately fine ; the egg lining is green. They vary from a long oval shape to one nearly spherical, but generally speaking they are broad ovals. They average 3.4 inches in length by 2.6 in breadth.