Cinereous vulture

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The cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These cinereous vulture species are distributed in Europe, Asia and Indian Subcontinent.

Taxonomy of Cinereous vulture

  • Scientific Name: Aegypius monachus
  • Common Name: Cinereous vulture
  • French: Vautour moine; German: Mönchsgeier; Spanish: Buitre negro;
  • Other names: Vultur Monachus Linnaeus, 1766; black vulture; monk vulture; Eurasian black vulture;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Aegypius monachus was earlier included in genus vultur.

Indian birds - Image of Cinereous vulture - Aegypius monachus
Indian birds - Image of Cinereous vulture - Aegypius monachus


The cinereous vulture is a large bird, measuring 100 to 110 cm in length and weighing 7,000 to 12,500 grams. The wingspan is 250 to 300 cm. The whole body is dark brown, except the head covered with brown down. The bare skin in the head and neck is bluish grey. The adult has brown eyes and a purplish cere. The bill is massive and is blue-gray in color. The legs are pale blue-gray. Their sounds and calls include grunts, croaks and hisses when feeding at carcasses.


The cinereous vultures inhabit hilly, mountainous areas, dry semi-open habitats such as meadows at high altitudes, steppe, grasslands and open woodlands.

Feeding habits

These cinereous vulture species feed on carcasses of medium sized and large mammals. They may occasionally takes live prey. They soar high on the thermals to locate dead animals.


These cinereous vulture species breed during February and March. They breed in loose colonies in trees and cliff ledges. The nest is built with sticks and twigs. The egg clutch typically only a single egg. Both the parents take part in the rearing of the chick.


The cinereous vulture is distributed in France, Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, north India, northern Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Mongolia, China, North Korea and South Korea.

Movement Patterns

The adult cinereous vulture populations in the Europe are mostly sedentary. The populations in temperate Asia migrate southwards for wintering.

Status and conservation

The cinereous vulture global population is estimated to number 21,000 to 30,000 individual birds. There is slight increase in European population. There is decline in the Asian population. Shooting, poisoning, use of veterinary diclofenac (anti-inflammatory drug), decrease in food availability and habitat loss are the main threats in the conservation of these species.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these vulture species and has listed them as "Near Threatened".

Biological classification of Aegypius monachus
Species:A. monachus
Binomial name:Aegypius monachus
Distribution:Europe, Asia and Indian Subcontinent;
Feeding habits:mainly carrion, rarely feeds on live prey;
IUCN status listing:
Near Threatened

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