Bearded vulture

With a wingspan up to 2.9 m, the bearded vulture is one of the largest birds in the world capable of flying.In flight, the often drooping wings and drooping tail, together with the downwards tilting head, form the typical appearance of this raptor. Fully grown bearded vultures have a high-contrast plumage. The upperpart is greyish-black. Head, neck and lower part are white to rust-red. The red colouring comes from bathing in mud containing iron oxide. The vulture gets its name from the distinct bristle-shaped black feathers, which protrude above the bearded vultures beak.

Pairs of bearded vultures breed in rock shelters. The home range of a couple may cover between 100 km² and 750 km2, which it may scour for food in extended gliding flight. But within this area, the breeding pair also has a fixed territory which it defends against intruders. The bearded vulture feeds on carrion and the remnants of carcasses left by other animals.A majority of its food (up to 90 %) consists of bones, which it can fully digest thanks to its particularly acid gastric juices. In order to obtain morsels small enough to swallow, the bearded vulture drops large bones onto rocks from great height.

After the bearded vulture became extinct in the Hohe Tauern around 1900, it was repopulated by means of an international projects starting in 1986. Today it can once again be frequently observed and first attempts at breeding have also been spotted.

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