Cinereous Vulture: The Majestic Scavenger of the Sky

Cinereous Vulture: The Majestic Scavenger of the Sky


The Cinereous Vulture, known by its binomial name Aegypius monachus, is a striking bird of prey with a commanding presence. Not only is it one of the world’s heaviest flying birds, but it also holds a wingspan that is genuinely awe-inspiring. As a near-threatened species, this magnificent vulture is a vital link in the ecosystem. Yet, it’s also one that faces various threats to its existence. This detailed guide delves into the fascinating world of the Cinereous Vulture, from its distinguishing features to its current conservation status. Whether you’re a bird lover or fascinated by birdlife, this guide will provide you with everything you need.


Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameCinereous Vulture
2Scientific nameAegypius monachus
3ColourSandy brown to dark brown
4Average length98–120 cm
5Average height113 cm (vertical)
6Type of birdBird of prey, scavenger
7Found in India in statesNorthern India
8HabitatMountainous terrains, open grasslands, semi-desert areas
9IUCN StatusNear threatened

Features of the Bird


The Cinereous Vulture is an impressively large bird, boasting an average body length of 98–120 cm. Given its enormous size, it’s not surprising that it ranks as one of the world’s heaviest-flying birds. Its grandiose wingspan adds to its intimidating aura, serving both functional and aesthetic purposes.


When measured vertically from head to feet, the average height of the Cinereous Vulture is around 113 cm. This remarkable vertical size further distinguishes the bird as an apex predator in the skies. It’s worth noting that this majestic bird makes for an impressive sight, whether in bird sanctuaries or the wild.

Running Speed

While not typically known for its speed on land, the Cinereous Vulture relies more on its incredible flying capabilities to traverse its habitat. They can run quickly on land when necessary, especially when approaching a carcass or avoiding danger.


The colouration of the Cinereous Vulture ranges from sandy brown to almost dark brown, allowing it to blend effortlessly into its natural surroundings. This camouflage is especially useful when the bird is nesting or hiding from potential predators.

Habitat and Food of the Bird

  1. Mountainous Terrains: Given their robust physique, these birds prefer lofty mountains where they can effortlessly catch thermals and rise high into the sky.
  1. Open Grasslands and Semi-Desert Areas: These terrains offer them the visibility and space required for hunting and scavenging.
  1. Food Sources: Mainly carrion, occasionally supplemented by small mammals.
  1. Carrion Identification: They have keen eyesight, allowing them to spot potential food from great heights.
  1. Competition: They often share their food sources with other scavengers, requiring them to be opportunistic and aggressive at times.

Nesting and Nurturing

Cinereous Vultures typically build their nests on high cliffs or large trees, offering them a vantage point and added security. The nests are usually made of sticks and other plant materials, with some even incorporating bird nests from other species. Both parents alternate between incubating the eggs and feeding the young, and the young are dependent on parental care for a prolonged period.


The Cinereous Vulture faces many threats that perilously impact its survival. Loss of habitat due to human encroachment, primarily through deforestation and conversion of natural landscapes for agriculture, poses a significant risk. Direct threats from humans include hunting and incidental poisoning, often from baits laid out to control other predators but consumed by these vultures. Furthermore, environmental toxins, particularly pesticides in the animals they feed on, are harmful. Food scarcity is another issue, especially during adverse environmental conditions, exacerbated by competition from other scavengers. Lastly, climate change disrupts their migratory patterns and can affect food availability.

IUCN Status and Conservation

Currently categorized as “Near Threatened” by IUCN, the Cinereous Vulture requires urgent conservation efforts to secure its future. This includes habitat protection, anti-poisoning campaigns, and community engagement to promote co-existence. Bird sanctuaries and birdlife sanctuaries are especially crucial in this regard.


The Cinereous Vulture, a fascinating and awe-inspiring bird, plays a vital role in the ecosystem. While it faces numerous challenges, concerted efforts in bird conservation can go a long way in ensuring that future generations can marvel at this magnificent creature.

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