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Bearded Vulture

Gypaetus barbatus

CONSERVATION STATUS.

Population of Bearded Vultures faced some decline from late 1990-s till 2006. Then it moderately increased and at current shows stability. Such fluctuation shows connection to level poaching on wild ungulates, such as Bezoar Goats, and on Raptors. At current the population of Bezoar Goats shows increase, but the poaching on Raptors is still an issue.

HABITAT.

Bearded Vultures occupy wide variety of open and semi-open landscapes with deep gorges and high cliffs taking wide elevation range. The species distinctly avoids dense forests, and wetland areas

FEEDING BEHAVIOR.

Bearded Vulture is a famous bone-eater. It feeds predominantly on remains of carcasses, which are left after other scavengers take most of the skin an meat. The bird searches for the dead animals, revising its huge territory with a soaring flight. The large gape allows Bearded Vultures to swallow quite large bones, while the bigger parts, it is crushing via dropping them from the height.

 

EGGS.

1-2. Pinkish-brown with darker spots of the same color. Both parents are incubating the eggs during 52-58 days. The nestlings stays in the nest 110 to 130 days after hatching.

YOUNG.

The first flight of fledgling in Armenia is usually being recorded from late May till mid June depending on elevation. The young stays with parents about 1-1.5 months, and then is being pushed out by the pair.

DIET.

The principle food of the species is medium to large size carrion, and its diet includes up to 85% of bones. Although there are reports of occasional consumption of tortoises, and also alive mammals, such cases have not been recorded in Armenia.

NESTING.

First breeds at age of 5-7 years, although successful breeding is recorded at the edge of 8-9 years. It breeds in small caves and grotto, or on the covered cliff ledges, avoiding southern face of the cliffs. Usually each pair changes its nesting place within the range of two kilometers, every 4-5 years (sometimes even after 2 years).

MIGRATION.

The species is strictly residential, and doesn’t conduct even local movements.

DISTRIBUTION.

Bearded Vultures breed in the mountainous regions of Eurasia and in Eastern Africa.

CONSERVATION MEASURES.

The species is evaluated as Near Threatened in IUCN Red List and as Vulnerable VU D1 for the Red Book of Animals of Armenia (2010). At current some portion of the breeding range of the species is protected in Khosrov Nature Reserve, Zangezur Biosphere Complex, and Dilijan National Park. The threats to the breeding individuals are related to direct persecution for trophy or to have the animals as pet. Another possible threat comes from potential poisoning by heavy metals at municipal dumps, due to lack of separate garbage collection, which results in disposing the batteries, mobile phones and other devises, together with the food remains. The proposed conservation measures include continuous monitoring of the species – as very sensitive to environmental changes, review of the policy on trophy collection and having animals as pets, strengthening of inspection, improvement of the waste management at municipal dumps, and expansion of public outreach component.

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