Egyptian vulture

A highly intelligent species that is the world’s only tool-using vulture with a long migratory range

Till Niermann

Till Niermann


Egyptian vulture

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A highly intelligent species that is the world’s only tool-using vulture with a long migratory range

Population 18,000 – 57,000
50-79% global rate decline over 3 generations

This bird is notable for its striking appearance, characterized by a bright yellow bill and face, which contrasts sharply with its otherwise white plumage. The back and chest are also whitish, but it is the contrasting black primary and secondary feathers on the wings that lend this bird a distinctive and easily recognizable silhouette in flight.

Egyptian Vultures pair for life, exhibiting monogamous behavior that is a testament to the social complexity of these creatures. They are known to engage in mutual preening and display rituals, which strengthen their pair bonds. Their loyalty extends to their migratory habits as they traverse great distances between their breeding and wintering grounds in the company of their mates. These migrations take them across diverse landscapes, from the southern parts of Europe through Asia and into northern Africa.

While in flight, Egyptian Vultures often ride thermals, which are rising currents of warm air. Soaring is an energy-efficient way to cover vast areas in search of food, and these vultures frequently join other scavenging birds in these thermal currents. This behavior not only conserves energy but also increases their chances of locating food, as the collective eyes of many birds are better than one.

As scavengers, Egyptian Vultures play a crucial role in their ecosystems by consuming carrion. They are visual hunters who do not rely on the sense of smell to locate their meals, unlike some other vulture species. Their sharp eyes can spot the carcasses of dead animals from a great distance. In addition to feeding on carrion, they are known to consume a variety of other organic waste, including human refuse and animal feces.

Another fascinating aspect of the Egyptian Vulture’s behavior is their use of tools, which is rare among birds. They are known to use rocks to break open ostrich eggs, a skill that requires a level of intelligence and problem-solving ability not commonly found in avian species.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2021
Breeding
Albania
2021
Algeria
2021
Andorra
2021
Passage
Angola
2021
Armenia
2021
Breeding
Austria
2021
Vagrant
Azerbaijan
2021
Bangladesh
2021
Vagrant
Belgium
2021
Vagrant
Benin
2021
Non-Breeding
Bosnia And Herz.
Official estimate
EX
2021
Extinct locally
Botswana
2021
Vagrant
Bulgaria
2021
Burkina Faso
2021
Cameroon
2021
Non-Breeding
Cape Verde
2021
Central Af. Rep.
2021
Non-Breeding
Chad
2021
China
2021
Origin Uncertain
Croatia
Official estimate
EX
2021
Extinct locally
Cyprus
2021
Passage
Czechia
2021
Vagrant
Côte D’ivoire
2021
Vagrant
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
Official estimate
EX
2021
Extinct locally, Vagrant
Denmark
2021
Vagrant
Djibouti
2021
Egypt
2021
Eritrea
2021
Estonia
2021
Vagrant
Ethiopia
2021
Finland
2021
Vagrant
France
2021
Gambia
2021
Georgia
2021
Ghana
2021
Passage
Gibraltar
2021
Passage
Greece
2021
Guinea-Bissau
2021
Non-Breeding
Guinea
2021
Hungary
2021
Vagrant
India
2021
Iran
2021
Iraq
2021
Israel
2021
Italy
2021
Jordan
2021
Kazakhstan
2021
Breeding
Kenya
2021
Kuwait
2021
Passage
Kyrgyzstan
2021
Breeding
Lebanon
2021
Lesotho
Official estimate
EX
2021
Extinct locally, Vagrant
Libya
2021
Mali
2021
Malta
2021
Passage
Mauritania
2021
Moldova
2021
Possibly Extinct
Mongolia
2021
Vagrant
Montenegro
Official estimate
EX
2021
Extinct locally
Morocco
2021
Mozambique
2021
Vagrant
Myanmar
2021
Vagrant
Namibia
2021
Nepal
2021
Niger
2021
Nigeria
2021
North Macedonia
2021
Norway
2021
Vagrant
Oman
2021
Pakistan
2021
Poland
2021
Vagrant
Portugal
2021
Qatar
2021
Vagrant
Romania
Official estimate
EX
2021
Extinct locally
Russia
2021
European Russia
Russia
2021
Vagrant: Central Asian Russia
Saudi Arabia
2021
Senegal
2021
Serbia
2021
Possibly Extinct
Slovakia
2021
Vagrant
Slovenia
2021
Vagrant
Somalia
2021
South Africa
Official estimate
EX
2021
Extinct locally
South Sudan
2021
Spain
2021
Canary Is.
Sri Lanka
2021
Vagrant
Sudan
2021
Svalbard
2021
Vagrant
Sweden
2021
Vagrant
Switzerland
2021
Vagrant
Syria
2021
Tajikistan
2021
Breeding
Tanzania
2021
Togo
2021
Passage
Tunisia
2021
Turkey
2021
Turkmenistan
2021
Breeding
UAE
2021
Uganda
2021
Non-Breeding
Ukraine
Official estimate
EX
2021
Extinct locally
United Kingdom
2021
Vagrant
Uzbekistan
2021
Breeding
Yemen
2021
Zimbabwe
2021
Vagrant

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size)/ Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No