Thursday, 28 October 2010

Cinereous vulture

Aegypius monachus

Photo by Rich Lindie (Birds Korea)

Common name:
cinereous vulture (en); abutre-preto (pt); vautour moine (fr); buitre negro (es); mönchsgeier (de)

Order Falconiformes
Family Accipiteridae

Breeds along the middle latitudes of the Paleartic, from the Iberian Peninsula in the west, through the Balcans and Turkey, along the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan and all the way to southern Siberia, Mongolia and norther China. Some asian population are migratory and winter in Korea, China, northern India and Pakistan, the Middle East and as far as southern Sudan in Africa.

One of the largest birds in the World, the cinereous vulture reaches 98-120 cm in length and a wingspan of 268-310 cm. The largest individuals can weigh 13.5 kg.

Breeds in woodland, mostly populated with perenial oaks, pines and junipers. Preferes steep slopes at altitudes ranging from 400-1900 m (Europe) up to 4500 m (Asia). Mostly nests on tree tops although in Asia some nest are built on rocky outcrops. Usualy forages in steppes, open woodlands and alpine meadows, ocasionally in human made habitats like cereal crops and orchards.

Small to medium-sized carcasses. In Europe mostly wild rabbit and domestic sheep, but also goat, pig, deer and wild boar. In Asia feeds on marmot, woolly hare, yak, kyang, both domestic and wild sheep and Tibetan gazelle. Ocasionally human corpses from cerimonial burials.

Starts breeding at 4-6 year old and forms stable couples that can last for several years. The only egg is layed in February-April and hatches after 54-56 days. The chicks fledge after 95-120 days.

IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
The main threats are: lack of food do to changes in agriculture and strict sanitary laws that stop farmers from leaving dead animals in the fields (Europe), poisoning, accidents with power lines and wind turbines, human disturbance to nests, forest fires, and illegal hunting.


  1. My local zoo had a pair of them. I saw them in 2005; the nicest, friendliest birds there. One came right up to me & put her/his head down, as if he/she wanted me to pet them. They have the most beautiful eyes, too.

  2. Nice that you've seen them. But you should see one in the wild, that's when they are truly majestic! Thanks for visiting :)