Himalayan vulture

   ›      ›   Himalayan vulture - Gyps himalayensis.

The Himalayan vulture (Gyps himalayensis) belongs to the family Accipitridae.

These Himalayan vulture species are distributed in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and China.

Taxonomy of Himalayan vulture

  • Scientific Name: Gyps himalayensis
  • Common Name: Himalayan vulture
  • French: Vautour de l’Himalaya; German: Schneegeier; Spanish: Buitre del Himalaya;
  • Other names: Himalayan Griffon;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Hume, 1869
Gyps himalayensis is closely related to European griffon vulture (G. fulvus).


The Himalayan vulture is a large bird, measuring 100 to 110 cm in length and weighing 8,000 to 12,000 grams. The wingspan is 260 to 290 cm. Adult birds have long and pale brown ruff with white streaks. The head is covered in down which is yellowish in adults but whitish in immature birds. The underside and under-wing coverts vary, from being pale brown to almost white in some birds. The legs are greenish-grey to white. The facial skin is pale whitish blue. They are noisy while feeding making various grunting and hissing sounds and calls.

Indian birds - Image of Himalayan vulture - Gyps himalayensis
Indian birds - Image of Himalayan vulture - Gyps himalayensis


These vulture species inhabit mountains, high-elevation steppes and plateaus.

Feeding habits

These vulture species feed on carcasses, typically avoiding offal and eating only flesh. They have been observed feeding on pine needles, an unexplained behaviour.


The Himalayan vulture breeding season is from January to March. The nest is built on a cliff. The clutch usually has one egg. Both the parents participate in rearing the chick.


These vulture species are distributed in Himalayan Pakistan, India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. It also occurs in Central and western China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia. This vulture species is a rare winter visitor to Thailand, Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Movement Patterns

These vulture species are mostly sedentary. They may move to lower altitudes in winter. The juvenile birds may disperse south during winter.

Status and conservation

The Himalayan vulture global population is now estimated to be 100,000 to 500,000 individual birds. There is a steady decline in the population of these bird species and they are considered 'Near Threatened'. Kidney failure in vultures caused by feeding on carcasses of animals treated with diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) was the major cause of decline in populations. Threats to conservation of these species include habitat degradation, human activities, reduced food availability and a shortage of suitable nesting sites.

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 Gyps himalayensis
Species:G. himalayensis
Binomial name:Gyps himalayensis
Distribution:Himalayan India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and Central China;
Feeding habits:mainly carrion;
IUCN status listing:
Near Threatened

Popular posts in Birds of India

Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gyps_himalayensis,_Sup_him%C3%A1lajsk%C3%BD.jpg
Image Author: MAKY.OREL | Image License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Current topic in Birds of India: Himalayan vulture - Gyps himalayensis.
Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.