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Cinereous Vulture
Aegypius monachus

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Eurasian Black Vulture, European Black Vulture, Monk Vulture.

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Aegypius monachus
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Distribution: Indomalayan/Palearctic. SPAIN, BALEARIC ISLANDS, and Balkans east through TURKEY, Caucasus, IRAN, PAKISTAN, AND northwestern INDIA to southern SIBERIA, MONGOLIA, northern CHINA, KOREA, and JAPAN; winters further south to northern Africa, Middle East, Southwest Asia, and INDIA; formerly nested in MOROCCO. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic. more....

Taxonomy: Based on nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, Wink (1995) found that this species belongs to the largest of two clades of Old World vultures, which contains the genera Aegypius, Gyps, Sarcogyps, Torgos, and Trigonoceps. Stresemann and Amadon (1979) and Amadon and Bull (1988) recommended that the four monotypic genera of large Old World vultures all be merged into a single genus, Aegypius, and Wink (op cit.) agreed, noting that the relatively small genetic distances between them are typical for intrageneric distances in other groups. This treatment was followed by Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001). In Wink's analysis, this species and the Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotus) always clustered as sister species, which differ by 3.8% nucleotide substitutions. The name "Black Vulture" has been used for this species in many European publications, but this leads to confusion with the American species, Coragyps atratus,, so the admittedly less accurate name, "Cinereous Vulture," is used here.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Sedentary in some areas, but many individuals winter south of the breeding range, and there is also a good deal of nomadism. Gavashelishvili and McGrady (2006) recorded long range movements by a bird which fledged in Georgia, traveled south to Saudi Arabia, and then headed north into Russia. Many adults and juveniles in Mongolia apparently migrate in autumn to wintering areas in South Korea (Batbayar 2004, Batbayar et al. 2006. Kenny et al. 2008), while birds from central Asia migrate to the Indian subcontinent, southern China, Russian Far East, and South Korea (Batbayar 2006). more....

Habitat and Habits: Prefers arid hilly and montane habitat, including wooded areas and semi-desert, areas above treeline, and agricultural habitats with patches of forest. Spends much time soaring overhead in search of food. Perches more often on trees than on cliff faces or on the ground. Not numerous, but in places of abundant food, may congregate in large flocks (Flint 1984).more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Carrion-feeder, usually with other species, especially European Griffons. Also occasionally attacks live prey, including birds and reptiles (Flint 1984). J. Schmitt (pers. comm.) observed this species pirating prey (rats) from Greater Spotted and Steppe Eagles in northern India. more....

Breeding: Semi-colonial nester in some areas, depending upon the availability of nest sites. Builds a huge platform or sticks lined with bark, animal hair, and bones and placed on the top of a tree, or on a cliff. Clutch size is one white egg, usually with a wide variety of reddish-brown spots. Both sexes share in incubation. The incubation period is 50-55 days, and the nestling period is 100-120 days (Gavashelishvili 2005). In the reintroduced population in southern France, the average age of first breeding was 4.4 years (Eliotout et al. 2007). more....

Conservation: Widely, but patchily, distributed over a vast region, where major declines have occurred in some areas and increases in others, including most of its European breeding range. This huge vulture suffers from persecution (shooting and poisoning), loss of breeding habitat, reduced food supply, and, in China, trade in its feathers. BirdLife International categorizes this species globally as Near Threatened, but there is increasing sentiment to downlist it to Least Concern. more....

Population Estimates: The European population is increasing. It was estimated at 1,200 to 1,700 breeding pairs (BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council 2000) and at 1,800 to 1,900 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). more....

Important References: 
Arenas, R.M. and P.M. Dobado (coordinators). 2006. The Black Vulture:
  status, conservation and studies. Disputación Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain.
Batbayar, N. 2004. Nesting ecology and breeding success of Cinereous
  Vultures (Aegypius monachus) in central Mongolia. M.Sc. thesis, Boise State
  University, Boise, ID.
Baumgart, W. 2001. [European vultures]. AULA-Verlag, Wiebersheim, Germany.
  (In German)
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
Cramp, S., and K.E.L. Simmons. 1980. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the
  Middle East and North Africa: the birds of the western Palearctic. Vol. 2.
  Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
Donázar, J.A. 1993. [The Iberian vultures: biology and conservation]. J.M.
  Reyero Editor, Madrid, Spain. (In Spanish)
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Grefa. 2004. El Buitre Negro. International Symposium on the Black Vulture
  Aegypis monachus. Córdoba, Spain.
Heredia, B. 1996. Action Plan for the Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus
  in Europe. Pp. 147-158 in B. Heredia, L. Rose, and M. Painter (eds.),
  Globally threatened birds in Europe: action plans. Council of Europe and
  BirdLife International, Strasbourg, France.
Meyburg, B.-U. 1994. Eurasian Black Vulture. Pp. 128-129 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.
Moreno-Opo, R., and F. Guil (eds.). 2007. Manual de gestión del habitat y
  de las poblaciones de buitre negro en España. Dirección General para la
  Biodiversidad, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Madrid, Spain.
Naoroji, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher
  Helm, London.
Tewes, E., J.J. Sánchez, B. Heredia, and M. Bijleveld Van Lexmond (eds.).
  1998. Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Black Vulture in
  south eastern Europe and adjacent regions, Dadia, Greece, 15-16 September
  1993, Black Vulture Conservation Foundation-Frankfurt Zoological Society,
  Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Sites of Interest:
Cinereous Vulture photos.
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations

Angelov, Ivaylo
Batbayar, Nyambayar
Bhusal, Krishna
Bohra, Dr. Dau Lal
Camina, Alvaro
Demerdzhiev, Dimitar
Fuller, Mark
Gurung, Surya
Kapetanakos, Yula
Katzner, Todd E.
Khadka, Bidur
Margalida, Antoni
Öztürk, Yasemin

Last modified: 1/15/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 26 Oct. 2021

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