Who is it?
The griffon vulture is one of the largest birds of prey in Europe. Its incredible eyesight allows it see, from great distances, dead animal on which it nosedives, before making large circles and landing next to the corpse. On the base of the neck it has a series of long white and tawny feathers, while on the front of its wings and its belly its plumage is cinnamon-coloured (and dark brown on the rest of its body). Its beak is hooked and it allows it easily to tear off large chunks of meet. Its legs are grey and rather weak, since it doesn’t need them to capture prey (unlike eagles or falcons).
What are its habits?
This vulture is more of a glider than a flier (it hardly moves its wings). Griffon vultures usually fly at heights between 1,800 and 3,500 m about sea level. They can cover as many as 300km in their search for food, especially when they are large mammals.
They live in colonies which sometimes contain hundreds of paird and, in places where the population density is high, they may even share their nest with another species, such as the Egyptian vulture or the lammergeyer. They usually breed at the beginning of the year, and brood on only one egg for about fifty days. The task of caring for the single chick is practically shared by the male and female, and lists a little over 100 days.
Did you know…
This species has been linked to humankind’s pastoral activity since the ancient inabitants of our peninsula became farmers, albeit their health function has not been well understood.