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Griffon Vulture
Gyps fulvus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Increasing.

Other Names: Common Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Griffon, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, European Griffon, European Griffon Vulture, Gryphon Vulture, Indian Griffon Vulture (fulvescens).

Gyps fulvus
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Distribution: Afrotropical/Indomalayan/Palearctic. Iberian Peninsula and northwestern Africa east to AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, and INDIA. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. G. f. fulvus: Iberian Peninsula and northwestern Africa east through Balkans, TURKEY, Middle East, ARABIA, and IRAN (Pamirs, Altai); migrates in winter to northern Africa (SENEGAMBIA, SOMALIA);G. f. fulvescens: AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, and northern INDIA east to Assam. more....

Taxonomy: Based on molecular sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, Wink (1995) found that the genera Gyps and Necrosrytes forms a sister clade to a group containing the genera Aegypius, Sarcogyps, Torgos, and Trigonoceps. The cytochrome b results of Seibold and Helbig (1995) indicated that G. fulvus and G. coprotheres of South Africa are sister taxa, and some authors have suggested merging the two species. However, the recent molecular studies of Johnson et al. (2006) indicated that G. fulvus forms a sister relationship with G. rueppellii, not G. coprotheres. That clade is sister to a another group comprised of the Long-billed Vulture (G. indicus), Slender-billed Vulture (G. tenuirostris), and Cape Vulture (G. coprotheres). Based on two samples, Johnson et al. (op cit.) also found that the two races, fulvus and fulvescens, are phylogenetically distinct and are not sister taxa. Instead, the fulvescens samples clustered with those of the Himalayan Vulture G. himalayensis, and further study may show that these purported races are actually separate species. Clark (2002) made a convincing argument that the name "Griffon Vulture" refers only to this species. more....

Movements: Breeding adults are largely sedentary, but most juveniles are migratory or nomadic (Bernis 1983, Griesinger 1996, 1998). Donázar (1993) found that 30% of juvenile griffons in Spain migrate for long distances after fledging. There are concentrations of migrating birds in some specific locations, e.g., Gibraltar and Suez (Bijlsma 1987), and Terrasse (2006) found that large numbers move through the eastern Pyrenees in spring northward into France and other countries in western Europe. In southwestern Europe, some French birds join the autumn migration of Spanish birds to northern Spain and western Africa (Terrasse op cit.), and these birds return to France in late winter at early spring, often accompanied by Spanish birds. Some griffons can winter in harsh conditions as long as there is an adequate food supply (Bahat et al. 2001, Slotta-Bachmayr et al. 2006). more....

Habitat and Habits: Roosts and rests on large cliffs and soars over surrounding open countryside in search of food. Avoids woodlands. Generally occurs from sea level up to an elevation of 1, 500 m and occasionally as high as 2,500 m (Slotta-Bachmayr et al. 2006). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds almost exclusively on carrion of medium-sized and large domestic and wild animals, often in large numbers, although there are a few records of birds approaching injured or weak sheep or cattle (Camiņa et al. 1995, Camiņa 2004). Most food items are dead livestock species, including, sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, and horses. more....

Breeding: Nests in colonies of up to 100 pairs on large cliffs, walls of ravines, and precipices, or (in Spain and Portugal) in trees in old Cinereous Vultures nests (Traverso 2001). The nest is a large stick platform lined with twigs, bark, animal hair, and bones. Clutch size is usually one white unmarked egg, but occasionally two are laid. The incubation period averages 55 days in Armenia (Gielikman 1966, Slotta-Bachmayr et al. 2004), 57 days on the island of Crete (Xirouchakis 2010), and 48-59 days in Israel (Shirihai 1996), and both sexes share incubation duties. The nestling period was reported as 85-120 days in Israel (Shirihai op cit.) and 110-124 days (Adamian and Klem 1999) or 110-115 days (Gavashelishvili 2005) in Armenia, and 119 days on the island of Crete (Xirouchakis op cit.). Breeding may not be attempted in some years.more....

Conservation: Widespread, but patchily distributed resident in most parts of its range. The population in the western European (Iberian Peninsula and France) portion of the range has increased greatly during the last three decades, owing to legal protection and reintroduction projects (Terrasse 2006), but those in the eastern European and Mediterranean portions have become endangered or extinct (Slotta-Bachmayr et al. 2004). The main threats to the species are poisoning, lack of food, changes of land use practices leading to lower domestic ungulate populations and thus fewer available carcasses, electrocution, disturbance, and direct persecution (shooting and egg robbing) (Slotta-Bachmayr et al. op cit.). If legal protection continues for the Griffon Vulture, Terrasse (op cit.) predicted that it will recolonize its entire former range in western Europe. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: The European population was estimated at 9,300 to 11,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2000), but this estimate was later revised to 19,000 to 21,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). Terrasse (2006) estimated that there were about 23,000 pairs in France and Spain in 1999. Del Moral and Marti (2001) also estimated the total population size at about 20,000 breeding pairs, noting that only 10% of the population exists outside the Iberian Peninsula. more....

Important References: 
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
Camiņa, A. 2005. The Eurasian Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus in Spain:
  current research and monitoring. Pp. 45-66 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U.
  Meyburg (eds.), Raptors worldwide: proceedings of the VI World Conference on
  Birds of Prey and Owls. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls and
  MME/BirdLife Hungary. Berlin and Budapest.
del Moral, J.C. (ed.). 2009. [The Griffon Vulture: breeding population in
  2008 and census method]. Seguimiento de Aves no. 30. SEO/BirdLife
  International, Madrid, Spain. (In Spanish with English summary)
Donázar, J.A. 1993. [The vultures of Spain: biolgy and conservation]. J.M.
  Reyero, Madrid, Spain. (In Spanish)
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Lerner, H.R., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Phylogeny of eagles, Old World
  vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:327-346.
Mundy, P.J. 2000. The status of vultures in Africa during the 1990s. Pp.
  151-164 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors at
  risk. World Working Group on Birds of Prey, Berlin, and Hancock House,
  Blaine, WA.
Orta, J. 1994. Eurasian Griffon. Pp. 127 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and
  J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Slotta-Bachmayr, L., R. Bögel, and A Camiņa Cardenal (eds.). 2004. The
  Eurasian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus fulvus); in Europe and the
  Mediterranean: status report and action plan. East European/Mediterranean
  Vulture Working Group.
Terrasse, J.F., F. Sarrazin, J.P. Choisy, C. Clemente, S. Henriquet, P.
  Lecuyer, J.L. Pinna, and C. Tessier.
2004. A success story: the
  reintroduction of Griffon Gyps fulvus and Black Aegypius monachus Vultures
  in France. Pp. 127-145 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors
  worldwide. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls and MME/BirdLife
  Hungary. Berlin and Budapest.

Sites of Interest:
Griffon Vulture Working Group
The "East European/Mediterranean Griffon Vulture Working Group," devoted to the conservation of this species.
BirdLife International
Details on status and conservation needs.
Migrating Birds Know no Boundaries
Map of the movements of a Griffon Vulture with a satellite transmitter from Israel to Saudi Arabia.
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations
Griffon Vulture photos.

Angelov, Ivaylo
Bhusal, Krishna
Bohra, Dr. Dau Lal
Camina, Alvaro
Dave, Ruchi
Demerdzhiev, Dimitar
Dobrev, Dobromir
Gurung, Surya
Johnson, Jeff A.
Kapetanakos, Yula
Karmacharya, Dikpal Krishna
Katzner, Todd E.
Khadka, Bidur
Margalida, Antoni
McGrady, Mike
Öztürk, Yasemin
Rondeau, Guy
Soni, Hiren
Teli, Janki
Virani, Munir
Zuberogoitia, Iņigo

Last modified: 2/5/2016

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Jan. 2022

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