Facts about Gypaetus

Crete the Island of contrasts
1 December 2016
Gyps fulvus ornio gypas vitsila griffon birds of crete feature image
Facts about Gyps Fulvus
5 December 2016

Crete is an island with huge biodiversity and hosts hundreds of plants and animals. One of the rare and endangered species is the Bearded Vulture or Gypatetus Barbatus. Crete where the bearded vultures live all year round, is one of their last refuges in europe. If you are really lucky you will be able to admire the king of the Cretan skies.


The bearded vulture is the biggest bird of Europe. Its body length reaches up to 125 cm and the wingspan up to 277 cm. The weight ranges from 5.6 to 7 kilos.

Proportions like a hawk but in bigger size.

The Greek name Gypaetus resulting from its appearance, it combines the majesty of the eagle and the habits of the vulture (scavengers).

The Latin name barbatus means "bearded" because of the feathers under his beak that looks like a beard.

In English is called Lammergeier, and comes from the German word Lämmergeier that means "sheep vulture" due to the belief that attacks to sheep.

cartoon "tell Mom that I will not come in the evening. I'm invited for dinner"

They are diurnal birds of prey. The 85-90% of their diet consists of bones and marrow. Their gastric acid is the strongest in the animal kingdom (pH 1). They can digests a large bone in 24 hours.

Bearded vultures swallow the small bones and carry the bigger bones in the air, they let them fall in specific sharp rocks to break and eat the marrow. These places are known as ossuaries .

They can consume animal bones they find on high mountain even months after their death.

They attack very rarely to living prey such as turtles and lizards, but more often than other vultures.

In Southeast Europe they live only in Crete. Here there are 4-6 pairs and the total population is less than 30 birds.

The wild sheep and goats at the mountains of Crete are their main source of food.

They do not get involved in fights over the carcass of an animal. They are the last of the scavengers prey birds that lunching as they eat only the bones. Unlike other vultures they can take off after a good meal

Their territories are huge 200-700 sq.km. They nest on cliffs or steep slopes at an altitude of 400-2500 m.

They lay 1-2 eggs, which the females incubates for 53-60 days. The chicks stay in the nest for 100-130 days.

In Crete has recorded the earliest spawning worldwide (10 October) and the lowest active nest (300 m.).

They are rarely found below 1.000 meters, normally they live above 2.000 meters.

At Everest can live at an altitude of 7.300 meters and have been seen to fly at 7.800 meters

Due to their frightening appearance and the fame that grab lambs, goats or even children the people chase them.

In some places of Nepal, chicks, considered by locals as a good omen of prosperity and the intestines of the bird a "drug" for traditional medicine.