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Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture Cathartes burrovianus

Jack C. Eitniear
Version: 1.0 — Published September 19, 2014


Geographic Variation

Two subspecies recognized:

burrovianus, described as Cathartes burrovianus Cassin 1845; type locality near Veracruz City, Mexico

Occurs from eastern and southern Mexico, south to central Colombia and northwestern Venezuela

urubutinga, described as Cathartes urubutinga Pelzeln 1861; type locality Forte do Rio Bronco, Roraima, Brazil

Occurs in South America east of the Andes, from southeastern Colombia and central and eastern Venezuela south to Paraguay, northern Argentina, and Uruguay.

Similar to nominate burrovianus, but larger (wing length 457-509 mm; Wetmore 1964).

Wetmore (1964) acknowledged that variation in size in this species was clinal, and that the recognition of two subspecies was arbitrary.


Related Species

Cathartes burrovianus is very similar to Cathartes melambrotus (Greater Yellow-headed Vulture), indeed the distinctions between these two taxa were not clarified until Wetmore (1964) described melambrotus. Amadon (in Stresemann and Amadon 1979) suggested that burrovianus and melambrotus may form a superspecies. These two species are widely sympatric in South America, although usually occupy different habitats.

Formerly called Cathartes urubitinga (e.g., Hellmayr and Conover 1949), until Wetmore (1950) clarified that the name burrovianus was applicable to this species.

Recommended Citation

Eitniear, J. C. (2014). Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.lyhvul1.01