Bearded vulture

Bearded vulture

Gypaetus barbatus
NT

IUCN status
Near threatened
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Bearded vulture

« The bearded vulture is a scavenger that mainly feeds on bones »

Previously extinct in France

Today this species is protected

We often think of vultures roaming the vast deserts of Africa and America, but did you know that they also live in Europe? Including France! 4 species are found in France, all of which are protected: the griffon vulture, the cinereous vulture, the Egyptian vulture, and lastly, the bearded vulture.
The bearded vulture lived in the Alps until the beginning of the 20th century; It was hunted due to the negative image associated with the vulture and became extinct in the region in 1913. The joint work of zoological parks and nature conservation associations has resulted in the subsequent reintroduction of the species.

Bearded vulture

Beauval Nature supports the reintroduction of the bearded vulture in Europe

The bearded vulture is the largest European vulture, but this species is living on borrowed time. Obligatory carcass disposal regulations have led to a reduction in the food resources that are available to this species. Degradation of their habitat and repeated poisonings have also contributed to the steady decline in bearded vulture populations. 

Thanks to the combined efforts of zoological parks and the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), the bearded vulture has been reintroduced in several regions, such as the Alps, where 60 births attributed to released individuals have already been recorded.

Bearded vulture

La Rhune, the vigilant lookout

La Rhune is a very discreet female; if you wish to look for her during your visit to the ZooParc de Beauval, take a good look at the top of her aviary. 

She particularly enjoys keeping an eye on her surroundings from a perch located close to her nest, in which we hope to soon see a few eggs!

Bearded vulture
Bearded vulture
Bearded vulture
Bearded vulture
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Near threatened

Learn more about the species

Range
Europe, Asia, Africa
  • Diet
    Scavenger
  • Incubation
    52 to 56 days
  • Clutch size
    1 to 2 eggs
  • Habitat
    Mountains
A large range
Though the populations of bearded vultures are small in Europe, their range extends much further than the “old continent”! The bearded vulture can be found in many mountain ranges, including those located in Africa, Iran, and the Middle East. But the species is most abundant in Asian mountain ranges. The bearded vulture has been observed on many Asian mountains, especially in the Himalayas, where it can be seen flying at heights of more than 8,000 metres above sea level.
The bone breaker
The bearded vulture is a scavenger that mainly feeds on bones. Its diet is unique among the vertebrates! This bird does not fight for its food. Having left the meaty parts of an animal carcass to its fellow scavengers, it will then swoop in to dispose of the leftovers. This vulture is cable of swallowing bones measuring about twenty centimetres in length and 3 centimetres in diameter. It will carry the largest bones into the air, dropping them from a great height so that they break on the ground. This behaviour has earned it the nickname “bone-breaker”.
A low birth rate
In autumn, the breeding pair of bearded vultures will build or improve their nests. Several nests are used with 4-or-5-year intervals passing before being reused again; this allows parasites, which may have accumulated in the nests, to die off. On average, these large nests measure 1 metre in diameter! They are made up of branches and animal remains, such as wool and skin. The female vulture lays just one or two eggs, during the winter. But each breeding pair can only raise one chick per year. If there are several chicks, the weakest are abandoned, in favour of the strongest.

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