Bird Families

Where does the black vulture live? Let's find out!


Black vulture - a large bird with long and very wide wings (span up to 2.5 m) and a short, wide tail. Soaring flight.

The name "vulture" (Latin gryphus from Greek it refers to the legendary bird with a hooked beak, eagle wings and a lion's body among the ancients. In the modern sense, it was first applied to this bird by French academicians in 1666, from them it passed to Buffon, and from him to later authors. In Russian, the word vulture, as the name of a legendary animal, has been found for a very long time; vulture as a heraldic emblem has been known in our country at least since the 16th century, and possibly even earlier. The black vulture is a book name, the bird is essentially not black, but grayish-brown (only young ones in the first annual plumage are blackish, however, in flight against a light background of the sky, the vulture appears black).

Area... Southern Europe-Spain and maybe Portugal, Balears (Mallorca), Sardinia and Sicily, the Balkans to the north to Slavonia and Romania (Dobrudja), Transylvania, until recently apparently in northwest Africa and maybe in Egypt, Cyprus, M. Asia, Palestine, north. Arabia and Aden, Iran, Afghanistan, Baluchistan (mountains), western Himalayas, Mongolia, possibly northwestern Manchuria and northern China (Zhili). In the USSR, in Bessarabia (the Kornesht forest in the former Beletsky district, Osterman, 1916, has it survived?), Crimea, the Caucasus, Turkestan from Kolet-Dag and B. Balkhanov to Tarbagatai, in southeastern Altai, in the Kokon ridge in western Altai , near Gorno-Altaysk (Upala), in the center. Altai. Black vultures fly to northern France, Germany, Denmark, Poland, and often to various countries of southern Europe. In the USSR, to the Baltic States, to the Ukraine (Proskurov, Chernigov region, Askania-Nova, Berdyansk, etc.), to Pskov, to Belarus (Polesie), to the Volga region (Arzamas), to the Urals (Molotov, Kungur, Kizel, the northernmost - at the mouth of the Podcherem at 64 ° N), regularly in the southern Urals and northern Kazakhstan, in southwestern Siberia near Barnaul, Petropavlovsk, Kolyvan, more or less regularly in southern Primorye, in eastern China. These flies also occur in summer (apparently, single birds), there are both single birds and groups (in autumn and spring). In the latter case, the flights are associated with the death of livestock as a result of winter lack of food, in China - once with the presence of many uncleaned corpses after the taiping uprising in the Yanjie Valley (Steyen, 1891).

Nature of stay... In the Crimea in the Caucasus, the black vulture is a sedentary bird, in Turkestan, in the cold season, the black vulture flies south, even from Kopet-Dag. In the north of Turkestan, it arrives at nesting sites only at the beginning of April, in Turkmenistan in February, disappearing from there at the end of October-November. The migration in southern Altai in the upper reaches of the Sarzhemata River was observed in early August (Sushkin, 1938). After hatching, vultures also make vertical migrations, and unmarried individuals fly outside the nesting area at any time of the year.

Habitat... Mostly mountains, however, in places and plains. It is possible that black vultures nest on the plains when especially favorable feeding conditions occur - there is a large amount of carrion (Syr Darya, Spangenberg). In the mountains in the Crimea at an altitude of 800-1000 m (Akimov, 1940), in the Caucasus up to 3000 m, in the Altai above 2000 m, in the Tien Shan up to 3000 m (Aksai), in the Pamirs up to 3500-3 600 m , in Tibet even up to 4,500 m. The vulture only flies into the subalpine and alpine zones, but nests in Central Asia, mainly in the juniper zone at altitudes of about 500-2,000 m.

Number... Limited, breeding colonies consist of few pairs.

Reproduction... Judging by the fact that in summer, unmarried individuals are found outside the nesting area, including young ones in the first annual plumage, vultures become capable of breeding at the age of more than a year (or later), however, the opposite opinion was expressed by Reiser. The breeding cycle is early. Vultures appear at nests in Crimea already at the end of February (21-26 February, Akimov), when old buildings are being repaired. However, sometimes the vultures stay at the nests in winter.Nests - unlike sipevs - are located on trees: on pines (Crimea), on juniper (Kopet-Dag, Tien Shan), on pistachios (Badkhyz), as a very rare exception on rocks (southern Altai, Sushkin), on saxaule (Syrdarya, Spangenberg). Nests have been used for many years, but probably interchangeably, as there are unoccupied ones. The nesting areas of black vultures are small - the distance of one nest from another is 750–1,500 m (Crimea). The sizes of new nests in Crimea are 130-140 cm in diameter, with a height of 60 cm, old ones - up to 200 cm and more than 100 cm thick.Old nests in the Tien Shan are so large that, according to the stories of the Kirghiz, leopards sometimes rest in them ... Vultures often arrange nests not high from the ground (Crimea). Lining of small twigs, bark, grass, shreds of felt, wool, etc. Mating occurs on the nest, while the vultures emit groaning and hissing.

Clutch occurs in early March (Crimea), from one egg. Eggs are off-white with more or less noticeable reddish-brown streaks and spots. Dimensions: 97-84x72-64 mm (Crimea, Akimov).

Both parents incubate, 55 days (Akimov). Hatching occurs in early May (Crimea). Black vultures feed chicks with regurgitated food. The growth of chicks is slow - at the age of one month, the development of contour feathers is just beginning and flight feathers reach 2-3 cm in length, at the age of about 2 months, in early July the contour plumage is fully developed, but there are remnants of down, the tail and wings are short (Crimea), however already at the beginning of August, grown-up flying young ones come across. The nesting period, therefore, lasts about 3-3.5 months. It is possible that in Turkestan the breeding cycle is somewhat earlier than in the Crimea, since the grown young were harvested already at the end of July (July 28 Sarychilek, Fergana, Kashkarov, 1927, etc.). Another one and a half - two months after the departure, the chicks remain in the nest area, straying in flocks in September - October, after which they begin to migrate.

Molting... Poorly clarified. A noticeable molt in adults occurs in June-July (Moscow Zoo).

The molt is full annual, although small and large feathers that have not melted always remain in the plumage. The sequence of changing outfits: the first downy outfit - the second downy outfit - the first annual (nest) outfit - the second annual outfit, etc. Whether the second annual outfit is final or transitional is unclear, but in any case, age-related changes after the change of the first annual attire are insignificant and not firmly established.

Food. The food of the black vulture is carrion, mainly the carcasses of large animals, which it searches for, soaring at high altitudes. Unlike vultures, it feeds mainly on meat, partly on the bones of corpses, swallowing also skin and wool and then throws them out in the form of pellets. Occasionally it attacks live prey: small mammals (ground squirrels), reptiles (lizards and turtles), domestic animals (lambs, Velizhanin, 1928).

Field signs... The black vulture is one of the largest birds, with a wingspan of about 2.5 m, the black vulture has a dark uniform coloration, the wings are long and wide in flight, the flight feathers are spaced finger-like when soaring, the tail is short and wedge-shaped, the head is retracted. A very fast and noisy descent from a height with bent wings, a raised tail and outstretched paws is characteristic. It keeps in flocks and singles, often soars, forage flights are in warm hours of the day, with air currents rising from the ground. Voice - hoarse quack or hiss.

Description... Dimensions and structure. The black vulture is the largest bird of prey in our fauna. The head is large, covered with down, the beak is massive, high, laterally compressed, the beak has a long and sharp hook, the nostrils are wide and rounded. The legs are short and thick, the toes are long with blunt and slightly curved claws. The wings are long and wide, the forearm is very long. The tail is wedge-shaped, of 12 tail. Weight (2) 6310, 7657 g (in 20 males from Romania 7000-11.500 g, in 21 females from the same place 7500-12500 g, Dombrovsky, 1912). The wing of males (5) 715-825, females (5) 705-813, on average 764.6 mm.Consequently, dimorphism in size is not very pronounced.

Coloration... The first downy outfit is monotonous yellowish-gray. The second downy outfit with a yellowish head, blue bare areas of skin under the eyes and on the goiter, a general smoky gray tone (Akimov, 1948). The first annual (nest) outfit: the down on the head is hard, blackish, the goiter is black, the general color is blackish with a slight sheen. Final outfit: the down on the head is pale brown or whitish, the feathers of the "necklace" are pale brown, the general color is dark brown with darker primary and lower leg feathers with light trunk features on the ventral side, often separate white feathers among the wing coverts and on the chest ... Eyes are dark brown or golden brown, beak is dark gray-horny, claws are black, legs, bare spot on the neck and wax in young are white, in old ones the wax and spot on the neck are bluish, legs are whitish-brownish.

Systematic remarks... East Asian vultures, according to some authors, are supposedly the largest of the Western ones and can in this case be separated under the name A. t. Chincou (Vultur chincou Daudinn. Traite d'Ornith. 11, 1800, p. 12, "China"). We did not have sufficient material to address this issue.

Bird of prey - black vulture

The vulture's beak is large, massive, slightly flattened on the sides, well adapted to butchering the carcasses of animals and birds. It is colored brownish yellow, and young individuals have a black beak. Paws are gray in color, dense, low, with blunt claws. The legs are rather weak and unable to support weights. The color of adults is brown; in the lower part of the neck, a necklace in the form of pointed light feathers is clearly visible. Young birds are colored black.

Where does the black vulture live?

Now we will answer this question in detail. The area where the black vulture lives is mountainous areas and flat areas with rare forests. The habitat extends to northern Africa, southern Europe, the entire Asian territory to the most eastern regions of mountainous China.

Basically, birds are sedentary, but certain species of vultures wander widely in winter in search of food, reaching the Japanese islands. The feeding habits of birds of prey do not allow them to eat frozen meat, therefore, where the black vulture lives, there is a warm climate. For the winter, birds of prey move to the southern regions, where they live from October to March.

The breeding season lasts about six months, starting in January. Vultures often settle in separate pairs. While grooming the female, the male performs incredible pirouettes in the air. He carries the bride away on joint soaring flights and in pursuit of each other. Choosing a girlfriend, the male arranges mating games on the ground.

Nesting places

The places where the black vulture lives and raises its offspring are quite secluded. For laying eggs, couples use tree hollows, depressions under snags, shallow caves, voids formed from inverted trees. Nesting sites can also be located in the crevices of abandoned houses, agricultural buildings, in cracks in rocks. Nests are built from dry twigs, lining the bottom with thin branches, grass, animal hair. The diameter of the nest can be up to two meters and weigh a centner. A married couple can use the favorite place for raising offspring many times.


The female of the black vulture lays one or two large eggs, variegated with brown spots. The pair is engaged in incubation of chicks together, taking turns flying away in search of food. After about forty days, chicks emerge from the eggs, covered with delicate fluff. Babies are born completely helpless and require the vigilant attention of their parents. Vultures swallow food intended for children in large chunks and then regurgitate them in the nest.

After two months, the fluff on the chick's body changes to black plumage. After four months, the cubs of black vultures become completely independent. Unfortunately, less than half of the newborn chicks survive to adulthood.In the zoos of the world, where the black vulture bird lives, it is possible to significantly increase the survival rate. The maximum age of life of predators is fifty years.

If there is no carrion nearby, then the vultures can attack young animals, pecking out their eyes or abduct small chicks from other people's nests.


Feathered predators start hunting in the early morning. They soar in the sky for a long time, looking for prey. The vultures rise so high that they turn into a small black dot. But the sharp eye of a bird of prey is able to see everything that happens on earth. As soon as he finds a flock of swarming crows, a term or kites, it immediately becomes clear that there is something to profit from here.

Folding its wings and tucking its paws, the black vulture falls like a stone down on the prey, instantly dispersing enemies from it. Competitors can immediately rush to a successful hunter, who, trying to snatch their piece of the trophy, make a noise and a fight. Saturated birds fly off near the feast and watch their relatives. Vultures are able to gorge themselves so tightly that they barely rise into the air.

Extinction reasons

Over the past couple of decades, the number of avian predators in the world has significantly decreased. The reason for this is a number of objective circumstances.

In places of constant wintering, severe winters with heavy snowfalls occurred for several years in a row, which created difficulties in obtaining forage. In livestock farms, the mass death of animals is practically not allowed. And in cases of single deaths, the corpses are reliably disposed of. In addition, many fur farms and small animal breeding farms (minks, sables) have significantly reduced their livestock or have completely closed their enterprises.

These circumstances immediately negatively affected the position of wintering vultures. From hunger, many birds were exhausted and lost the ability to fly. Cases of eating dead relatives have been reported, which is an anomalous phenomenon. Birds that settled in the urban environment grew bolder and began to seek food in public landfills. Moreover, they ceased to be afraid of people, which became an additional factor increasing the mortality of valuable birds at the hands of humans. To this was added the lack of control of human actions associated with hunting vultures, ruining their nests, setting up traps with poisoned bait.

The bird of prey is listed in the Russian Red Book, as well as in Appendix II to the international CITES Convention.

If you do not stop the process of mass death of birds, then soon a person will forget about who the black vulture is, the photo of which will remain in textbooks as a reminder of the lost population of useful birds of prey.


1A "In critical condition" - 1A, KC. The black neck in the Red Book of the Russian Federation is classified as "3 - Rare".

Category according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List

The regional population is categorized as Critically Endangered, CR D. R. A. Mnatsekanov.

Brief morphological description

The black vulture is a large bird of prey of dark brown color. The wings are long, wide, and the tail is relatively short. The head is covered mainly with downy feathers, around the neck there is a kind of downy collar.


The global area includes North Africa, Southern Europe, and the mountain ranges of Asia. Within the Russian Federation, it nests in the Caucasus. There is information about the presence of the species in the south of the Orenburg region, southeastern Altai, southern Sayan, Primorye.

The regional nesting area of ​​the species covers the mountainous regions of the GKH, the Peredovoye and Skalisty ridges from the Fisht-Oshtenovsky mountain range to the borders with Abkhazia and the KChR. It is a nesting sedentary species in the region. Sometimes in winter, single birds fly into the flat part of the region - in the lower reaches of the river. Kuban.

Features of biology and ecology

The habitats are mountainous areas combined with open spaces and wooded areas. Birds nest in sparse colonies or single pairs. Nests are arranged in trees or rocks.One egg in a clutch. The general breeding cycle lasts about 6 months. The black vulture feeds on carrion, preferring the muscle tissue of dead large mammals.

Number and trends

Only 700-800 pairs of black vultures nest in Europe. Its number in Russia was estimated at 10-15 pairs. According to other data, the probable abundance of the species can reach from 30–70 to 60–100 pairs [1, 5]. In CC, there are 2 reliable cases of nesting of the black vulture [1, 7]. Its number was determined in 2–3 - 4–6 pairs [1, 4]. In the past, the black vulture has been recorded on the Black Sea coast.

In the 1990s, in addition to single individuals, groups of up to 7 birds were observed in nesting sites. Currently, the black vulture is not found in the Black Sea regions, its concentration is not observed. The nesting of the black vulture in the CC appears to be irregular and depends on the state of the birds' food supply.

Limiting factors

Deterioration of feeding conditions due to a decrease in the number of wild ungulates and a decrease in the number of livestock. Possible death of birds in traps set on wolves at the bait.

Necessary and additional security measures

The species is protected on the territory of KGPBZ. It is necessary to identify the nesting areas of the black vulture and give them the status of protected areas (natural monuments). It is advisable to create special feeding grounds in places of nesting of birds, to prohibit the use of traps when catching wolves near baits in the districts of permanent habitation of black vultures.

Sources of information. Red Data Book of Krasnodar Territory 1. Belik, 2004c, 2. Galushin, 1983, 3. Zabolotny, Khokhlov, 1995, 4. Lokhman, 2000, 5. Mishchenko et al., 2004, 6. Stepanyan, 1961, 7. Tilba, 1993 , 8. Tilba, 2001e, 9. IUCN, 2004, 10. Unpublished data from the compiler. Compiled by. P.A.Tilba.


Body length black vulture ranges from 75 to 115 cm, wingspan reaches 2.8 m, weight 10-12 kg. The head of the black vulture is rather massive, dressed, like the upper part of the neck, with short down, a strong beak with round nostrils, adapted to the dissection of a large carrion, wide and long wings, on the lower part of the neck there is a necklace of long pointed feathers.


Black vulture feeds on carrion. Unlike other birds of prey, he does not kill his prey, but is content with corpses, pecking out soft tissues. The vulture looks out for food, soaring high in the air. With extremely sharp eyesight, vultures are sensitive to the slightest changes in the behavior of other scavengers in their field of vision, and when they find a source of food, they rush to it from great distances.