Eurasian Black or Monk Vulture

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image: MonkVulture.jpg

Common Name: Eurasian Black or Monk Vulture
Scientific Name: Aegypius monachus

Size: 39-44 inches (98–110 cm); Wingspan: 99-119 inches (250–300 cm)

Habitat: Europe, Africa and Asia; breeds in Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyztan, Iran, Afghanistan, north India, northern Pakistan9, Mongolia and mainland China, with a small reintroduced population in France. It may occasionally breed in Portugal, F.Y.R.O. Macedonia and Albania. There are wintering areas in Sudan, Pakistan, north-west India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Lao People's Democratic Republic, North Korea and South Korea.

Status: Near threatened. Global Population: 14,000 - 20,000 mature individuals. The Black Vulture has declined over most of its range in the last 200 years due to poisoning by eating poisoned bait put out to kill wolves and other predators, and to higher hygiene standards reducing the amount of available carrion. It is currently listed as near threatened. The decline has been the greatest in the western half of the range, with extinction in many European countries (Portugal, France, Italy, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Romania) and northwest Africa (Morocco, Algeria). More recently, protection and deliberate feeding schemes have allowed some local recoveries in numbers, particularly in Spain, where numbers increased to about 1,000 pairs by 1992 after an earlier decline to 200 pairs in 1970. Elsewhere in Europe, very small, but now increasing numbers breed in Bulgaria and Greece, and a re-introduction scheme is under way in France. Trends in the small populations in Ukraine (Crimea) and European Russia, and in Asian populations, are not well recorded. In the former USSR, it is still threatened by illegal capture for zoos, and in Tibet by rodenticides. Its 2007 global population is estimated to number 5,200-10,000 pairs.

Diet: Wide variety of carrion, from small mammals to dead cows. Also insects, other invertebrates and some over-ripe fruit.

Nesting: It breeds in high mountains and large forests, nesting in trees or occasionally on cliff ledges, and generally raises two chicks each year. Chicks are naked at hatching and later grow down. The parents feed the young by regurgitation. The young are helpless and fledge in 2 to 3 months.

Cool Facts: It is the second largest bird of prey (Falconiformes) in the world, only the Andean Condor is larger (slightly). At a weight of 7–14 kg (15.5-31 lbs), it is thus one of the world's heaviest flying birds.

Among the vultures in its range, the Eurasian Black Vulture is best equipped to tear open tough carcass skins, using its powerful bill. It is dominant over other vultures at carcasses.

It can fly at a very high altitude. It has a specialized hemoglobin alphaD subunit of high oxygen affinity which makes it possible to take up oxygen efficiently despite the low partial pressure in the upper troposphere.

Found in Songbird ReMix Vultures

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