Egyptian Vulture

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image: EgyptianVulture.jpg

Common Name: Egyptian Vulture
Scientific Name: Neophron percnopterus

Size: 33.5 inches (85 cm); Wingspan: 67 inches (170 cm)

Habitat: Europe, Africa and Asia; Found in South Europe, Northern Africa, Mesopotamia and Northern India.

Status: Endangered. Global Population: 21,000 - 67,200 mature individuals. The Egyptian Vulture is declining in large parts of its range, often severely. In Europe and most of the Middle East, it is half as plentiful as it was about twenty years ago, and the populations in India and southwestern Africa have collapsed entirely. In the case of India, this apparently is attributable to the widespread use of the NSAID Diclofenac. Many famers poison vultures believing they promote disease—in fact, vultures do the opposite by cleaning up potential sites for diseases to spread.

Diet: Egyptian vultures are specialists in egg-eating. They are among the only known birds in the world to use stones as tools. They will repeatedly strike at an abandoned ostrich egg with stones, and then use their beak to enlarge the hole and penetrate membrane. This behavior is not instinctive, but learned from other vultures, as the species is very intelligent. They also eat carrion and overripe fruit.

Nesting: Males and females are alike in plumage, but females are usually slightly larger than their mate. Beautiful breeding displays are performed by both sexes. They fly high into the air and dive back down, grasping claws on the way. They prefer to nest on rocky ledges and in cliffs, preferring well-sheltered areas with many cavities, as the birds are colonial nesters. They lay 1 to 3 eggs, which they incubate for 42 days. They have the ability to lay a new egg if one is destroyed or taken before hatching.

Cool Facts: The Egyptian Vulture is the first ever recorded bird ever to be protected by law. The Egyptian Pharaoh felt a kinship to this vulture and feeling that their job as natural cleaners was very important to the health of his kingdom, he forbade anyone to kill this bird. This crime was punishable by death. After this ruling, the bird came to be called "Pharaoh's Chicken."

At least five different species of vulture (neret) lived in ancient Egypt. The particular species shown in the hieroglyph is the Egyptian Vulture.

The vulture was also a symbol of the goddess Mut, as well as Isis and Hathor. The bird also served as a symbol of the feminine, often in opposition to the scarab who signified the male principle.

This vulture flies with more wing beats than most vultures, but takes off much more gracefully, as it is built lighter and smaller. Once gliding, the bird holds its wings flat, shifting them very little. The bird possesses great endurance, and is able to fly up to 70 kilometers in search of food.

Found in Songbird ReMix Vultures

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