- Eurasian Griffon
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Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus Scientific name definitions

Alfredo Salvador
Version: 2.0 — Published January 21, 2022
Revision Notes

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Introduction

May we not conjecture that the process is as follows? - The Griffon who first descries his quarry descends from his elevation at once. Another, sweeping the horizon at a still greater distance, observes his neighbour’s movements and follows his course. A third, still further removed, follows the flight of the second; he is traced by another; and so a perpetual succession is kept up as long as a morsel of flesh remains over which to consort. I can conceive no other mode of accounting for the numbers of Vultures which in the course of a few hours will gather over a carcasse, when previously the horizon might have been scanned in vain for more than one, or at the most two, in sight

-H. B. Tristram (1).

The Eurasian Griffon is a large vulture with a relatively long neck, heavy bill, and a buff-colored ruff. Its dark brown flight and tail feathers contrast sharply with the pale brown body, most easily noted when soaring on thermals in search of food. It is an obligate scavenger that feeds on carcasses, mostly of domestic or wild ungulates. When a group gathers at a carcass, access to the food is controlled by a dominance hierarchy: adults are dominant over subadults, which are in turn dominant over juveniles; individuals constantly fight to maintain a position close to the carcass. Despite this dominance hierarchy at food sources, Eurasian Griffon is a social species. Most adults appear to be sedentary, staying close to breeding colonies throughout the year. Migration predominantly involves juveniles and immatures, which move south and return to the breeding colonies in the spring.

A monogamous species, Eurasian Griffon usually nests in small colonies of fewer than 20 pairs (occasionally 100s), typically on cliffs and rarely in trees or mounds. Aerial courtship displays occur from mid-September through mid-December, with egg laying taking place from November–April (timing varies with latitude). Females typically lay a single egg, rarely two; replacement clutches may be laid if the first clutch is lost. The male and female alternate incubating the eggs for a period of 49–65 d, with hatching occurring from mid-February through the end of April. Fledging occurs from early June till the end of August, when young are at an age of 97–136 days old. Birds generally breed for the first time when they are 4 years of age, though there is a lot of individual variation.

Eurasian Griffon is a long-lived species, with a maximum life span of at least 35 years recorded in the wild. Populations in many parts of Europe have rebounded after declines in the 1900s. Reintroduction efforts have helped significantly, and supplemental feeding stations have been recognized to be positive for conservation efforts, though recent studies warn of uncontrolled effects that can alter natural processes in vulture populations. While it is now protected in numerous countries, threats still remain across its range, mainly due to poisoning, collision with wind turbines and power lines, electrocution, and illegal killing.

Distribution of the Eurasian Griffon - Range Map
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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Eurasian Griffon

Recommended Citation

Salvador, A. (2022). Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and M. A. Bridwell, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.eurgri1.02