The Griffon Vulture
 Morris's British Birds 1891
 Scanned by
Previous Preview Back to thumbnails Next Preview

Griffon Vulture
Image Title: Griffon Vulture
Description: Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)

Previous Preview Back to thumbnails Next Preview

Gyps fulvus, GRAY. Gyps vulgaris, SAVIGNY. Vultur fulvus, GOULD. Gyps—A Vulture. Fulvus—Yellow—tawny.

The Griffon Vulture is an inhabitant of various parts of Europe Asia, and Africa, regardless alike seemingly of cold and heat. It is met with in Turkey, Greece, the Tyrol, and Silesia, on the Alps, and the Pyrenees, in France, Germany, Dalmatia, and Albania, the Grecian Archipelago, Candia, Sardinia, Spain, and Algeria; Egypt, Tangiers, Tunis, and other parts of the African continent, and is particularly abundant on both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar, and as it has once been known, as presently mentioned, to visit this country, it may be hoped that it may again be met with here.
Like the rest of its congeners, this bird feeds on carrion, and thus performs a useful part in the aeconomy of nature. Occasionally it will attack weak or sickly animals but this is only as a 'dernier resort' and when it cannot supply its appetite by the resources which are more natural to it. Thus, Vice versa' the Eagle, whose congenial prey is the living animal, will, when forced by the extremity of hunger, put up with that food which under other circumstances it rejects and leaves for the less dainty Vulture.
When the Griffon meets with a plentiful supply of carrion, it continues feeding on it, if not disturbed, which it easily is by even the minor animals, until quite gorged, and then remains quiescent until digestion has taken place: if surprised in this condition, it is unable to escape by flight, and becomes an easy capture. It feeds its young, not by carrying food to them in its talons, as is the habit of the Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, and Owls, but by disgorging from its maw part of what it had swallowed.
Only one example of this grand addition to British ornithology has as yet occurred. A single specimen—an adult bird, in a per¬fectly wild state, was captured by a youth, the latter end of the year 1843, on the rocks near Cork harbour, and was purchased for half-a-crown for Lord Shannon, by whom, when it died, it was presented to the colletion of the Dublin Zoological Society.
This species, like the rest of its kindred, possesses great powers of flight, though it is not rapid on the wing, and often soars upwards, almost always spirally, until it has become invisible to the human eye; it descends in the same manner in circles.
It builds its nest, as might be expected, on the highest and most inaccessible rocks, or sometimes on lofty trees, but in the winter it frequents more the lower and open grounds. The structure is three or four feet in diameter.
The eggs, laid early in March, commonly one, but occasionly two or three in number, are of a dingy white colour, sometimes marked with a few pale red streaks and blots.
The young are hatched the beginning of April.
The male and female are scarcely distinguishable, except in size—the former being smaller than the latter, as is the case generally with birds of prey; why, it is extremely difficult to say. Some reasons which have been advanced must at once be pronounced unsatisfactory.
The length of this bird is about three feet eight inches. The bill is by some described as bluish lead-colour; by others as yellowish white or horn-colour; the cere, bluish black; iris, reddish orange, The head and neck are covered with down, which, as well as the ruff round the neck, and which is of the same material, is dull white; the eyes are margined with black. The upper and middle part of the breast also dull white, mixed with light brown, the lower part reddish yellow brown. The expansion of the wings eight feet. The back, and the greater wing coverts, light yellowish brown, the shafts lighter brown; the larger under wing coverts, dull white; lesser under wing coverts, light brown; primaries, dark brown; the tail the same colour. The legs and toes lead-colour, the former reticulated, the latter each with six large scales in front; the claws black.
Immature birds differ very considerably in plumage from those which have attained to the adult state; the former are much spotted
all over, and the down on the head and neck is conspicuously marked with brown.

"And griping vultures shall appear with state."

Buy Bird Books from Amazon Here

Home Page  Scanned images Copyright Ash.Midcalf  Email Us