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Bearded vulture


Common name Bearded vulture
Scientific name Gypaetus barbatus
Type Cliff-nesting birds
Status Dispersive

Large bird of prey (approx 120 cm or 4 ft) with an also large wingspan (approx 290 cm or 9.5 ft). Grey slate upperparts with small whitish lines. Cream-toned head with a feathered neck. Underparts of the same colour as the head or somewhat more orange. Naked face, yellowish eyes with a red eye ring and a black mask that forms a kind of beard that hangs on the bill. It may have a black collar of feathers. In flight there is a large bird with dark wings and tail and a clear belly. Wedge-shaped tail (differential feature).


Rocky environments

Where it lives

Mountain species with a preference for rock fields and cliffs in areas with prevailing winds and populations of domestic and wild ungulates that provide carrion to feed on.

How it lives

Vagrant or dispersive species in the province although resident in other Andalusian mountains. The Bearded Vulture breeds from autumn. Nest in large rocky ledges. One annual laying of 2 eggs. Very specialized food. It consumes the bones of ungulates swallowed after fracturing them in places known as ossuaries. This raptor takes advantage mainly of marrow, although it also consumes to a lesser extent tendons, skins or small carrion. Sometimes this vulture parasitizes other raptors, forcing them to give up their prey.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Uncommon species in Malaga. The specimens that are observed come from the captive breeding programme existing in the Sierras de Cazorla (Jaén) and Castril (Granada). Above all, individuals have been watched in Sierra de las Nieves, although their dispersive movements have also made them pass across the Torcal de Antequera, the upper Axarquía or the Sierra de Mijas.

Curious facts

The Latin name of this raptor comes from the Greek words "gyps" and "aetos", which together mean "vulture with the appearance of an eagle". Bearded vultures have vast range areas (up to 2,000 km2 or nearly 800 mi2) and in the recent past they were common birds in the province. The last known nesting specimen lived until 1920 in El Chorro. But many Malaga mountain ranges had pairs of bearded vultures in the 19th century, as witnessed by the chronicles of romantic travelers or the historical nests that are gradually being located. There were bearded vultures in the Serranía de Ronda, in Sierra Bermeja and even a couple in Sierra Blanca in Marbella, on the Costa del Sol.

Wintering Summer Resident Migration