The Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) is a large bird, called a raptor or accipiter. It is also called the Eurasian Black Vulture because it is native to Eurasia. It should not be confused with the American Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), which is a different species. The Cinereous Vulture is related to the Lappet-Faced Vulture.
The Cinereous Vulture is brown with some black feathers and white patches. It has a bald, blue-grey head and a ruff of white feathers around its neck. There is a white patch above its brown eyes. It has a blue-grey beak with a purplish cere. Its beak is the largest beak of all raptors. It has pale blue-grey legs.
It is almost 1.2 metres long (4 feet), with a wingspan of 3.1 metres (10 feet). It is one of the world’s heaviest flying birds, but it can fly at a very high altitude.
The Cinereous Vulture is Eurasian, found from Spain in the west to Mongolia in the east, and south to the Caucuses and Middle East. It is a resident of countries and rarely migrates.
It prefers hilly, mountainous areas. It forages for carcasses (dead animals) to eat, feeding on carrion (meat), such as yaks, hares, rabbits, and sheep.
The Cinereous Vulture is a solitary bird, found alone or in pairs. Nesting pairs make a very large nest from sticks and twigs in a tall tree or on a cliff. The nest can be 2 metres (6.6 feet) across and 3 metres (10 feet) deep.
Females lay only one white egg that is about 8 centimetres (3 inches) long. She sits on the egg for about 50-62 days. The chick is semi-altricial. Instead of being bald when it is born, the chick has grey-white fluffy down feathers. It grows its flight feathers when it is about 30 days old. The chick is independent after about six months.
The Cinereous Vulture may live for up to 39 years.
[Location of photographs: Tbilisi Zoo, Georgia]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM