The Griffon Vulture belongs to the Old World Vultures of the genus Gyps and is, by size and wingspan, a truly huge and bulky vulture. One only realises the real size of the Griffon Vulture when standing directly in front of one of them. This vulture is native to the three continents Africa, Asia and Europe.
In Europe the Griffon Vulture was close to extinction in the 1970s, but a comprehensive and thorougly managed conservation programme by the Vulture Conservation Foundation not only helped this species to recover but to become the most common vulture in Spain.
Genus: Old World Vultures (Gyps)
Species: Griffon Vulture
Scientific Name: Gyps fulvus
Name in German: Gänsegeier
Name in French: Buitre Leonado
Name in Spanish: Buitre Leonado
Name in Portuguese: Grifo-comum
Name in Italian: Grifone
Name in Dutch: Vale Gier
Name in Croatian: Bjeloglavi sup
Name in Serbian: Beloglavi sup
Name in Czech: Sup bělohlavý
Name in Slovak: sup bielohlavý
Name in Hungarian: Fakó keselyű
Name in Greek: Γύπας, Ορνιο, Όρνιο
Name in Finnish: Hanhikorppikotka
Name in Danish: Gåsegrip
Name in Swedish: Gåsgam
Name in Polish: Sęp płowy
Name in Russian: Belogolowy Ssip
Name in Arabic: النسر, النسر الأسمر, النسر النسر, نسر اسمر اوراسي
Name in Kazakh: Ақбас құмай, Қара құмай
Name in Hebrew: נשר, נשר מקראי
Name in Persian: دال معمولی, دال (کرکس) معمولی, دال معمولی
Name in Bengali: ইউরেশীয় গৃধিনী
Artname in Nepali: खैरो गिद्ध
Artname in Turkey: Akbaba, Kızıl akbaba, kyzyl akbaba
Größe: 95-105 cm
Gewicht: 6-11 kg
Spannweite: 240-280 cm
♂: 68.5-75.,0 cm
♀: 72.5-77.5 cm
Voice: In flight usually silent, except near own nest. However, when assembling around carrion or cadavers as a larger group, Griffon Vultures are much noisier. Usually they utter drown-out hisses and shrill sounds.
Sexually mature: The Griffon Vulture becomes sexually mature after 4-5 years.
Mating Time: Monogamous breeding pairs, mating starts in December.
Clutches per breading season: 1 clutch
Breeding: depends on the region: Southern Europe: between February and September, North Africa and Indian region: from January onwards, Middle East: as of December.
Nest: The nest is a loosely-built platform, made of an assortment of sticks and twigs. Size from rather small to rather large, especially after years of consecutive use, the platforms become very large, measuring 60-100 cm across and 20-30 deep. The nest is mostly decorated and lined with grass and leaves. Nest is usually placed on a ledge and under an overhang, also in shallow sissure or caves and also on steep cliffs. Griffon Vultures are known to take over the nests of the Golden Eagle, Lammergeier and Monk Vulture.
Clutch: 1 Egg (rarely 2)
Eggs: Egg is broadly oval to plump, even elliptical, shell is mostly white, covered with rusty brown speckles and stains.
Egg – Measures and Weights:
Length: 81.5-101.0 mm
Width: 64.5-75.0 mm
Ø: 92.0x70.1 mm
Weight of an freshly laid egg: 252 g
Eggshell: 21.0-30.0 g; Ø 24.3 g (n=100)
Recurrent Clutch: possible, though the loss of clutch mostly leads to end of breeding for the current season.
Laying Interval: only on the occasion of two eggs, there are no reports available.
Incubation: 45-58 Tage, the task of incubation is shared between ♂ and ♀
Fledging: In case of two eggs, only the older one will survive. Chicken is thoroughly nursed during the first days. Both parents feed the chicken. Fledging after 113-159 days.
Dependency: After leaving the nest the young vulture can fly but continues to be dependent on his parents for another 3-4 months.
Food: The Griffon Vulture feeds exclusively on cadaver and carrion. Matter-of-factly, the Griffon Vulture processes cadaver and leaves the rest to the so-called garbage collectors, which are the Egyptian Vulture and the Bearded Vulture. These two are allowed to the carcass when the large Gyps vultures and the Monk Vulture have finished feeding. The Griffon Vulture needs the cadaver of medium to large mammals of which it processes guts, muscle and small bones. It must be stated that the usual accusations brought forward by locals that the Griffon Vulture feeds on live stock not only could never be proved but is, from a scientific point of view, utter nonsense.
Longevity: In captivity 50 years are possible (Zoo Salzburg).
Mortality – Survival Rate: ???.
Threats: The biggest threat is human persecution, laying out poisoned baits which are mainly intended to work against predatory mammals such as the wolve. Because of EU regulation prohibiting farmers to leave dead cattle, sheep and goats out in the fields to rot away, feeding options for Griffon Vultures are rather slim. Since the conservation programme started in France and Spain, the Griffons have been supplied with cadavers on special feeding grounds to provide sufficient food. Also the large vultures happen to collide with Power Lines. Too much tourism in certain areas leads to disruptions in the colonies of the Griffon Vulture.
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Bruun/Singer/König/Der Kosmos Vogelführer, Franck'sche Verlagshandlung Stuttgart, 5. Auflage 1982
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Vultures Conservation Foundation - European Vulture Protection and Conservation
Egg of the Griffon Vulture - Source: by Klaus Rassinger und Gerhard Cammerer, Museum Wiesbaden, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons