May 2018: Bearded Vulture

Scientific Name Gypaetus barbatus
Alternate Name Lammergeier, Lammergeyer
Collective Name Kettle, Venue
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Chordata Aves Accipitriformes Accipitridae Gypaetus
Africa, Asia, Europe Shrubland, Grassland, Rocky Areas, Artificial/Terrestrial
93-125 cm. 37-49 in. 4-7 kg. 2-16 lb.
2.28-2.82 m. 7.5-9.25 ft. (Wingspan) 21-45 yr. 17.8 yr. (Generation)
Near Threatened Solitary Diurnal
Decreasing Polyandrous Carnivore
Left Right
2 Subspecies
G. b. barbatus Eurasian, North African, Northwest African
G. b. meridionalis South African

The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus,) is an especially large vulture that feeds primarily on bones. They have an extremely high acid content within their stomachs that allows them to consume large bones whole and digest them within 24 hours. As scavengers, they soar 300-4,500 meters in the air, waiting for other predators to take down prey and pick the bones clean before they swoop in to consume the rest of the carcass. By disposing of rotting remains, these birds help keep the ecosystem clear of disease. Because these avians reside across three continents, Africa, Asia, and Europe, they are wide-spread and listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. However, their populations are rapidly decreasing in Europe, where they are considered endangered.

 

FAUNAFACTS

Bearded Vulture Bearded Vulture - Bearded vultures perch on rocks, rather than tree branches, with a characteristic hunched shoulder position.
Bearded Vulture Bearded Vulture - Bearded vultures have declined 25-29% over the past 3 generations, except in northern Spain, due to poisoning, habitat degradation, and disturbance of breeding sites.
Bearded Vulture Bearded Vulture - Bearded vultures prefer fatty bones for their oleic acid, associated with increased energy and foraging time optimization.

 

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