Griffon Vulture

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image: GriffonVulture.jpg

Common Name: Griffon Vulture
Scientific Name: Gyps fulvus

Size: 37-43 inches (95-110 cm); Wingspan: 91-105 inches (230-265 cm)

Habitat: Europe, Africa and Asia; Found in South Europe, Northern Africa, Mesopotamia and Northern India. The largest numbers of Eurasian Griffon Vultures are found in Spain, but there are significant populations in Turkey, Gibraltar, and Bosphorus. They favor the more southern parts of their range, and can tolerate inclement weather such as rain, mist, and snow fairly well. Though they avoid wetlands and marine areas, they are very fond of fresh and running water, for bathing and drinking.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 100,000 mature individuals. Populations opulations have declined significantly and expanded throughout Europe over the last century. The griffon is extinct in much of its former range due to habitat loss and use of mammal poisons.

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

Nesting: Griffons pair for life. They build nests of grass and twigs on cliff ledges. Mating takes place on the same steep cliff faces where the birds construct their nests, and the female lays one or two eggs 2 months after mating. Both parents tend the eggs. Model parents, the griffons incubate their eggs by night, and shade them by day, as the temperature rises. Incubation lasts from 48 to 52 days.

Cool Facts: Griffon Vultures live about 40 years. Griffons are very social, living and nesting in colonies of 15 to 20 pairs. Sometimes more than 100 pairs compose a colony. After feeding on a carcass, Griffons often gather at a watering hole to bathe.

Since Griffon Vultures cannot smell their meals, they soar high above, scanning for signs of a kill. Once a kill is spotted, they patiently wait and close in once the mammalian scavengers have gone. They have to do this because their beaks are not designed for ripping open fresh hides, thus they depend on predators or larger vultures to begin the work for them. Descending on a carcass, the bird can dive at over 100 miles per hour. They are one of the fastest species of vulture. The crop of a Griffon Vulture can hold up to 13 pounds of meat.

The feather of the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, according to Greek myth, could protect against snake bites, cure blindness, and relieve the pain of childbirth.

At least five different species of vulture (neret) lived in ancient Egypt. The particular species shown in the hieroglyph is the Griffon vulture. The vulture was typically associated with the goddess Nekhebet who was the patroness of the city of El-Kab in Upper Egypt. When El-Kab became important early in ancient Egyptian history, the vulture soon became a heraldic creature for all of Upper Egypt. As such, the vulture was often shown with the cobra (the herald of Lower Egypt) wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt. She also appeared in the nebty or "Two Ladies" name of the pharaoh.

Found in Songbird ReMix Vultures

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