Large bird of prey (about 95 cm or 37.5 in) with an also large wingspan (about 250 cm or 8 ft), very similar, although somewhat smaller in size, to the Griffon Vulture. Adults show clear edges of the dorsal feathers, which gives them a very distinctive scaly appearance. In flight the presence of a white stripe under the wings and a couple of rows of white spots are observed. In juveniles the lack of contrast in the color of the plumage of the wings stands out.
African species that usually occupies pastures, savannas and arid areas south of the Sahara. This vulture shares habits and range areas with the Griffon Vulture when it is in the peninsula.
Vagrant or dispersive species in the province. Considered previously as a rarity in Andalusia and currently as a scarce migrant, the Rüppell’s Vulture is little by little an increasingly frequent vulture. It is nomadic during its first years of life, associating with griffon vultures, with which this raptor shares carrion and roosts. In Africa, it uses rocky cliffs to nest in colonies.
In the province of Malaga it is a sparse bird. It can be watched any month of the year, more often in large colonies of griffon vultures such as the ones in El Chorro and Sierra Crestellina. It is also occasionally observed in the garbage dumps of the Serranía de Ronda (Cortes de la Frontera, El Hondón, Quejigales).
The Rüppell’s vulture makes migratory movements similar to those of the Griffon Vulture but in the opposite direction. While the latter breeds in the Iberian Peninsula and juveniles go to sub-Saharan Africa during their first years, the Rüppell’s Vulture breeds in southern Africa and its juveniles reach the peninsula during their dispersions. This bird was described by the German naturalist and explorer Eduard Rüppell in the 19th century during one of his expeditions to Africa. There are observations of specimens flying above ten thousand meters of altitude (more than 32,000 feet).