Egyptian vulture

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The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These Egyptian vulture species are distributed in southwestern Europe, Indian Subcontinent, central Asia and Africa.

Taxonomy of Egyptian vulture

  • Scientific Name: Neophron percnopterus
  • Common Name: Egyptian vulture
  • French: Percnoptère d’Égypte; German: Schmutzgeier; Spanish: Alimoche común;
  • Other names: Vultur Perenopterus Linnaeus, 1758; white scavenger vulture; pharaoh's chicken;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Neophron percnopterus was earlier classified under genus vultur. The three recognized subspecies are: N. p. percnopterus (Linnaeus, 1758), N. p. majorensis Donázar et al., 2002 and N. p. ginginianus (Latham, 1790).

Indian birds - Image of Egyptian vulture - Neophron percnopterus
Indian birds - Image of Egyptian vulture - Neophron percnopterus - (Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA 3.0)


The Egyptian vulture is a large bird, measuring 55 to 70 cm in length and weighing 1,600 to 2,400 grams. The wingspan is 140 to 175 cm. The adult vultures have white plumage with black flight feathers. The plumage may appear rusty brown due to soiling with red soil. The bill is slender and long with hooked mandible and black tip. The facial skin is orange yellow. The bill is black in subspecies N. p. percnopterus and yellow in subspecies N. p. ginginianus. Their call is a low whistle and they also make groaning and grunting sounds.


The Egyptian vultures inhabit a variety of habitats ranging from semi-desert areas, scrub forests, foothills and sub-urban areas.

Feeding habits

The Egyptian vultures feed mainly on carrion. They also feed on small mammals, birds and reptiles. The Egyptian vultures have been observed to scavenge from garbage in urban areas and sometimes feed on faeces of mammals.


The Egyptian vultures breed during spring. They build nests on ledges, caves on cliffs, rocky outcrops, large trees and buildings. The clutch usually has two eggs. Both the parents take part in incubating eggs and raising chicks.


The Egyptian vulture subspecies N. p. percnopterus are distributed in southwestern Europe, Africa, northwest India, Middle East, Central Asia and Cape Verde Islands. The subspecies N. p. majorensis is distributed in Canary Islands. The subspecies N. p. ginginianus is distributed in India and Nepal.

Movement Patterns

The Egyptian vulture species in the northern region are migratory and move southwards for wintering. The populations in India and Africa are mostly sedentary.

Status and conservation

The Egyptian vulture global population is estimated to be 20,000 to 61,000 individual birds. There is a sharp decline in the population of these vulture species and they are considered 'endangered'. Kidney failure in vultures caused by feeding on carcasses of animals treated with diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) was the major cause of sudden decline in populations, especially in India. NSAIDs are reportedly toxic to raptors, storks, cranes and owls, suggesting that vultures of other genera could be susceptible to their effects. However the veterinarian diclofenac was taken off the market in the year 2006, in India, Nepal and Pakistan. Present threats to the Egyptian vulture conservations and survival are degradation of the habitats, human disturbances of breeding pairs, collisions with powerlines and wind turbines and inadequate food availability.

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

Biological classification of Neophron percnopterus
Species:N. percnopterus
Binomial name:Neophron percnopterus
Distribution:southwestern Europe, Africa, Indian Subcontinent, Middle East, Central Asia and Canary Islands;
Feeding habits:mainly carrion; also feeds on small mammals, reptiles and birds;
IUCN status listing:

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Image Author: Carlos Delgado | Image License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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