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Black vulture


Common name Black vulture
Scientific name Aegypius monachus
Status Accidental

Large bird of prey (approx 110 cm or 43.5 in) with an also large wingspan (approx 290 cm or 9.5 ft). It is the largest raptor in Europe. Dark brown plumage, feathered collar around the neck, head covered with short, greyish-brown down with a large, sturdy bluish-coloured bill. In flight there are large, wide and straight-edged wings. Short, wedge-shaped tail.

Where it lives

Woodland species linked to the Mediterranean forest. The Black Vulture uses well-preserved mid-mountain forests as its nesting habitat: cork and holm oak groves and pine forests. Its large range area allows it to explore a large territory as a feeding habitat (almost 1,500 km2 or nearly 600 mi2), that includes areas of scrub and scattered trees with its breeding zone as its central area. This raptor needs the presence of wild rabbits and ungulates in the feeding habitat.

How it lives

Vagrant or dispersive species in the province. This vulture breeds from February onwards, carrying out one annual laying of one egg. Nest in trees. Species less gregarious than the Griffon Vulture, although relatively colonial at the time of nesting, keeping some distance between pairs. It feeds on carrion, imposing its presence on that of other vultures. The Black Vulture flies lower and prospects more actively and meticulously the terrain than other vultures, allowing it to detect for themselves dead animals the size of a rabbit.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Bird that is observed in Malaga more and more frequently but still without a record. It can be watched in the garbage dumps of Cortes de la Frontera and Quejigales (Sierra de las Nieves). There are stable breeding colonies in Huelva, Seville and Córdoba and probably the individuals that are observed in Malaga are individuals in dispersion of those populations.

Curious facts

The Latin name of this species refers to its solitary life habits ("Aegypius", from Greek, "vulture"; "monachus", from Latin, "hermit monk"), which contrast with those of other vultures. However, it shares with them the characteristics of the vultures: appearance, bald neck and head. A derivative of vitamin A inhibits the growth of the feather in these areas, which allows them to manage better inside the corpses and avoid getting too dirty, which is nothing more than a defense mechanism against possible infections.

Similar birds
Routes where it can be observed
Wintering Summer Resident Migration