Lammergeier in the Spanish Pyrenees

The majestic sight of an adult Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus) in flight.

These huge vultures are amongst the largest vultures with a wingspan of between 1- 1.2 meters and can weigh between 4.5 and 7 Kilos. Adults have a warm cream coloured head with black patches around the eyes. At the start of the bill adults show tufts of jet black whiskers giving them their other name 'Bearded Vulture'. The head colour darkens to an ochre colour on the neck which then extends down the underside of the body. The diamond shaped tail is diagnostic in flight silhouette and upper wing, tail and back are fairly uniform brown with some white striping showing well, particularly in the wing coverts.

Lammergeiers breed in pairs and have fairly large territories. The European population is thought to be around 2,100 individual birds. (Birdlife International 2004). Their global distribution ranges from Europe through the Middle East into North-East China. It also occurs in parts of North, East and Southern Africa.

Lammergeiers nest on cliff ledges, caves or rocky crags that are mostly inaccessible. Their nest can be huge piles of sticks and branches lined with  wool, sometimes paper or plastic rubbish, old skin, grasses and dried dung and get larger each year. Usually two eggs are laid and incubation time is between 50 to 60 days. Chicks fledge the nest after 100-130 days but still rely on their parent to provide food for up to one year.

These birds are specialist bone feeders, seeking out the remains of carcasses and eating whole bones. If a bone is too large they will carry it off and drop it onto rocks from a great height to shatter the bone then spiral down and eat the pieces. Although strictly scavengers they do take tortoises in other countries and carry them aloft and drop them onto rocks as well.

Andalucian Guides arranges photo shoots on request, (maximum three/four people). Tailor-made packages to suit according to species (Little & Great Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Bonelli's Eagle etc). We can also organise hide photography in other countries with our partner companies, for example in Hungary and Romania for a number of wetland, steppe and woodland species as well as Brown Bear photography. Please ask for details and availability. +34 956 432 949

For more information on the conservation of Lammergeiers in Europe have a look at these Links:

Fundación Gypaetus

Bearded Vulture Reintroduction into the Alps

Foundation for the Conservation of the Bearded Vulture

Lammergeier re-introduction in Spain


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