The Monk Vulture is a huge bird, with dark plumage, but for the pale head. It comes across at a size of 100-110 cm and a wingspan measuring between 250-295 cm, making it one of the larges vultures in Europa, Africa and Asia.
There are several names attached to this vulture which are Black Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, European or Eurasian Black Vulture. As usual it depends on the author und which name this vulture is addressed. The Vulture Conservation Foundation addresses the bird as "Cinereous Vulture".
Names apart, the Monk Vulture lives solitary or in pairs but is also known to be quite sociable when gathering in groups.
Genus: Monk Vultures (Aegypius)
Species: Monk vulture
Scientific Name: Aegypius monachus
Name in German: Mönchsgeier
Name in French: Vautour moine
Name in Spanish: Buitre Negro
Name in Portuguese: Abutre-preto
Name in Italian: Avvoltoio monaco
Name in Dutch: Monniksgier
Name in Czech: Sup hnědý
Name in Slovak: Sup tmavohnedý
Name in Hungary: Barátkeselyű
Name in Finnish: Munkkikorppikotka
Name in Danish: Munkegrib
Name in Swedish: Grågam
Name in Polish: Sęp kasztanowaty
Name in Russian: Tschorny Grif
Name in Kazakh: Тазқара
Name in Mongol: Нөмрөг тас, Нохой тас, Тас, Хар тас, Хүсэн ? тас
Name in Chinese: 秃鹫
Name in Chinese (traditional): 禿鷲
Name in Bengali: কালা শকুন
Name in Nepali: राजगिद्ध
Name in Hebrew: עוזניה שחורה, עוזנייה שחורה, עזניה שחורה, עזנייה שחורה
Name in Arabic: النسر الأسود, النسر الأسود النسر, النسر الاسود
Name in Malaysian: കരിങ്കഴുകൻ
Name in Korean: 독수리
Name in Thai: แร้งดำ, อีแร้งดำหิมาลัย
Name in Turkey: Esmer Akbaba, Kara akbaba, Rahip Akbaba, Тазқара
Distribution: The Monk Vulture is a bird of the Palearctic and marginally also of the Indomalayam region. Mostly distribute across the mountainous regions of Southwest, South and Southwest Europa, as well as in central and south Asia. European breeding areas are Spain, Balearic Islands, southern France (re-introduced in the Cevennes from late 1970s), Pyrenees, eastern Greece, south Bulgaria, Crimea, Caucasus, Turkey, Iran, south Turkmenia, east Uzbekistan, southeast Kazakhstan, from Afghanistan to Baluchistan, northwest Pakistan, north and northeast India (Himachal Pradesh and Assam), Mongolia, north China and Tibet. In Africa the Monk Vulture is breeding in the north African Atlas mountain range (Morocco and Algeria) Als Brutvogel kommt der Mönchsgeier in niederen bis mittelhohen bewaldeten Berglandschaften vor. Die Art ist in der Paläarktis verbreitet. Das Verbreitungsgebiet erstreckt sich, beginnend in Zentral-Spanien über den Balkan, mit Vorkommen auf der Krim, über die Türkei nach Vorderasien und den Kaukasus bis nach Zentral- und Ostasien. In Zentralasien reichen die Vorkommen von Nord-Indien über Tibet bis in die Mongolei und nach Mittel-China.
Size: 100-110 cm
Tail: 32-37 cm
Weight: 7000-12500 g
♂ 7,0-11,5 kg g
♀ 7,5-12,5 kg Ø
Wingspan: 250-295 cm
♂: 73,5-82,0 cm
♀: 75,0-84,5 cm
Voice: In general, the Monk Vulture is a silent vulture that becomes more vocal when arguing with other vultures and when assembling at cadavers and carrion. Though, the sounds are no more than croaks, grunts and hisses. These sounds are also uttered in the presence of human and must not always be understood as aggressive sounds.
Sexually Mature: Monk vultures become sexually mature after the 5-6 year of age.
Mating: Monogamous breeding pairs, pairing can start in the second year already; if so mating starts in February.
Clutches per breading season: 1 Jahresbrut
Breeding: Across the entire distribution breeding begins earliest in February and can last up to August/September. In Europa, breeding begins from end of February and usually last up to March / early April.
Nest: The nest is a massive structure of sticks, usually measuring 1.5-2 m across and up to 1-3 m deep, decorated with dung and animal skin, which is gatherd by the vultures in the breeding area. Nest sits in trees such as oak, juniper, pine or conifer at levels 1.5 to 12 m. Trees grow on the ground, on rocks or cliffs, though, rarely in Europe.
In Europe nest structures are usually a bit smaller than in Asia, also measuring 140-200 cm across but only 70-100 cm deep.
Clutch: 1 Egg
Eggs: Eggs are rump to round oval or even elliptical, white shell with rusty brown 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: ???.
Incubation: 54-56 days, both parents share the task of incubating. /p>
Fledging: Some of the jung vultures leave the nest already after 80-90 days, though, mostly they fledge after 110-120 days. The chicken is fed by both parents.
Food: The Monk Vulture almost entirely depends on a sufficient supply of cadavers and carrion. Upon rare occasions when living animals are cut down by the vultures we are talking weak and ill animals. The Monk Vulture lacks the ability to prey on healthy animals simply because of its sheer weight and the huge wingspan, the latter especially preventing it from fast flights, and also from abruptly switching from gliding into dive. Monk Vultures don’t do fast at all, if any they glide down to the prey out of the incredible heights at which they perform their search flights.
Longevity: In captivity, Monk vultures can reach a age of 40 years; though, in Germany there is a vulture living in a birds of prey station still being alive and well at the age of at least 75 years. Incredible, isn’t it?.
Threats: As is the case with all vultures, the main threat is the lack of cadaver and carrion in the open countryside. Other threats are, especially in Europe, Monk vultures colliding with power lines or with the revolving wings of wind turbines. Also the loss of habitat is a real problem. Still, Monk Vultures are still being illegally be hunted, killed and poisoned. Unfortunately, the diclofenac problem has, by now, also arrived in Europa and we have seen the first victims of this painkiller under vultures..
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Mebs, Theodor et. al, Die Greifvögel Europas, Franck-Kosmos Verlags GmbH, 2. Auflage 2014
Svenson, Lars et. al, Der Kosmos Vogelführer, Franck-Kosmos Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart, 2. Auflage 2011
Vultures Conservation Foundation - European Vulture Protection and Conservation
Egg of the Monk Vulture source: by Didier Descouens - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17083739