The cinereous vulture has also been called the European black vulture.
Habitat & Range
Open terrain, steppes and mountainous areas up to altitudes of 23,000 feet.
The cinereous vulture ranges through southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East (Iran, Afghanistan), central Asia, and into Mongolia and southern China.
Cinereous vultures are scavengers. Their diet consists mainly of carrion – the remains of dead animals. They have several adaptations for feeding on carrion. The lack of feathers on their head helps them keep from getting messy while eating. Their strong hooked beaks are adapted for tearing chunks of flesh off the carcass. They even have a third eyelid that protects their eyes from blood and flesh. Although a diet of dead animals may sound unappetizing, vultures are actually recycling by utilizing carrion as a food source. They also help clean up the environment and therefore perform an important function as part of nature’s “clean up crew”.
IUCN Status: Near Threatened
Cinereous vultures are threatened by hunting, poisoning, habitat destruction and the reduction of available wild and domestic food sources throughout most of their range. The Denver Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan for this bird and is also involved in a project for the development of assisted reproductive technologies for cinereous vultures. Several European countries are releasing captive-bred vultures back into the wild and have established programs to protect breeding sites for cinereous vultures. In an effort to help this and other vulture species, Spain has opened several “vulture restaurants”. At these sites, dead deer and sheep are left to make sure the vultures in those areas get enough to eat.
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