Common name in other languages:
Dutch Aasgier; German Schmutzgeier; French Perconptère d´Egypte; Spanish Alimoche; Portuguese Britango; Swedish Smutsgam
Size: 58-70 cm
Weight: 1,6-2,2 kg
Wingspan: 155-170 cm
Life expectancy: up to 37 years in captivity
Features: This vulture species is considerably smaller than the other vultures in Europe. Adult animals have a bald yellow head and throat, and a white collar. The plumage is a creamy white, in sharp contrast with the black wing coverts. Young birds are brown with paler wings coverts, and slowly whiten with each mould. Like Bearded vultures, Egyptian vultures sometimes rub themselves with soil rich in ferric oxides, hence the German name ‘Schmutzgeier’.
Distribution: During the last decades, the number of Egyptian vultures declined dramatically in Europe. The largest European population is located in Spain (1300 to 1500 pairs). Except in France, where there are currently around 70 breeding pairs, the number of birds across Europe is still decreasing sharply, with over 50% in the last three generations.
Behaviour: Egyptian vultures are opportunists and eat very varied. Their diet consists mainly of carrion, but also small mammals, young birds, fish, eggs and even rotting fruit. The species can fly up to 80 kilometers per day in search of food. Due to their smaller size, Egyptian vultures must often wait for other species to have finished eating. The thin beak is perfectly adapted to catch the small pieces of leftover meat on carcasses. Also, they can break an egg by repeatedly dropping stones on it.
The Egyptian vulture is the only European vulture that migrates to Africa in winter. This is why they breed later in the year than other vulture species, and lay on average two eggs in April or May. Couples build nests together, in rocky areas, often on cliffs.