Griffon Vulture - Gyps fulvus
In Greco-Roman civilisation, the vulture is a divinatory bird devoted to Apollo whose flight can be interpreted as omens. The history of the building of Rome records that Remus saw six vultures flying over the Palatine hill whereas Romulus saw twelve flying over the Aventine hill, so the city was built where the omens were the most favourable.
Its French name ‘Vautour fauve’ comes from the Greek gups “vulture” and the Latin fulvus “tawny”. It is also called the ‘vautour griffon’, like Griffon Vulture in English. The Griffon is a symbol of the sun and is a mythical bird with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion. For the Greeks it was known for guarding treasure. Mountain dwellers say that Griffon Vulture pairs mate for life. They generally occupy the same nest year after year. They have one naked and blind chick which is fed regurgitated food, as with all vultures, and will not take its first flight until it is sixteen weeks old.
First chick hatched at Le Rocher des Aigles: 2 April, 1992
CLASS : Aves
ORDER : Falconiformes
FAMILY : Accipitridae
WINGSPAN : 2.5 m
WEIGHT : 6 - 11 kg
CLUTCH SIZE : 1 egg
INCUBATION : 50-58 days
LIFE EXPECTANCY : 37 years in captivity
DIET : it is necrophageous and feeds on dead animals and carcasses.
NATURAL HABITAT : it lives in the mountains, rocky areas and steppes. It nests on cliffs (in colonies of 20 to 30 pairs) and feeds near open areas
RANGE : Asia, Africa, Southern Europe, Near East
Conservation status info
LC : Least Concern
The species went into decline in the 19th and 20th centuries in much of Europe, in Northern Africa and in the Middle East, primarily due to direct persecution, poisoning and the reduction of food. The worldwide population does not appear to be threatened at present and reintroduction programmes, especially in France, have been very successful.