- Bearded Vulture
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), also known as the lammergeier or ossifrage, is a bird of prey and the only member of the genus Gypaetus. Although dissimilar, the Egyptian and bearded vulture each have alozenge-shaped tail — unusual among birds of prey. In July 2014, the IUCN Red List has reassesed this species to be near threatened. Before July 2014, it was actually classed as Least Concern. Their population trend is decreasing.
The bearded vulture eats mainly carrion and lives and breeds on crags in high mountains in southern Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Tibet, laying one or two eggs in mid-winter that hatch at the beginning of spring.
This bird is 94–125 cm (37–49 in) long with a wingspan of 2.31–2.83 m (7.6–9.3 ft).It weighs 4.5–7.8 kg (9.9–17.2 lb), with the nominate race averaging 6.21 kg (13.7 lb) and G. b. meridionalis of Africa averaging 5.7 kg (13 lb). In Eurasia, vultures found around the Himalayas tend to be slightly larger than those from other mountain ranges. Females are slightly larger than males. It is essentially unmistakable with other vultures or indeed other birds in flight due to its long, narrow wings, with the wing chord measuring 71.5–91 cm (28.1–35.8 in), and long, wedge-shaped tail, which measures 42.7–52 cm (16.8–20.5 in) in length. The tarsus is relatively small for the bird's size, at 8.8–10 cm (3.5–3.9 in). The proportions of the species have been compared to a falcon, scaled to an enormous size.
Unlike most vultures, the bearded vulture does not have a bald head. This species is relatively small headed, although its neck is powerful and thick. It has a generally elongated, slender shape, sometimes appearing bulkier due to the often hunched back of these birds. The gait on the ground is waddling and the feet are large and powerful. The adult is mostly dark gray, rusty and whitish in color. It is grey-blue to grey-black above.
The creamy-coloured forehead contrasts against a black band across the eyes and lores and bristles under the chin, which form a black beard that give the species its English name. Bearded vultures are variably orange or rust on their head, breast and leg feathers but this is actually cosmetic. This colouration may come from dust-bathing, rubbing mud on its body or from drinking in mineral-rich waters.
The tail feathers and wings are gray. The juvenile bird is dark black-brown over most of the body, with a buff-brown breast and takes five years to reach full maturity. The bearded vulture is silent, apart from shrill whistles in their breeding displays and a falcon-like cheek-acheek call made around the nest