The bearded vulture is a unique bird in the truest sense of the word, because it is this unique species that is listed in the bearded genus. It is almost unlike other representatives of the hawk family. In general, the bird has, on the whole, an unusual appearance in comparison with other representatives of the fauna. Today, it can be seen not only in its usual habitat, but also in many reserves of various countries. On this page, we will detail the most important moments in the life of the bearded vulture.
Origin of the species and description
The very first bearded man was discovered by such a person as Carl Linnaeus in 1758. He wrote about this bird in the tenth edition of his famous taxonomy, entitled Systems of Nature. In this essay, Karl gave the bird its first Latin name — Vultur barbatus. Some time later, specifically in 1784, the German physician and chemist Gottlieb Konrad Christian Stor singled out this species into a separate genus – Bearded (Gypaetus).
An interesting fact: in Russian, the bird also has the second name is the lamb. It is a translation from the Western European interpretation. There, this species is so nicknamed because of the representation of shepherds that it kills sheep.
The bearded vulture is a large bird. Its length can reach 125 centimeters, and its weight ranges from 5 to 8 kilograms. The length of the wings is on average 77 centimeters, and their span is 290 centimeters. Their dimensions can only be compared with the neck.
Appearance and features
The bearded man has a very unusual appearance and color. For example, in an adult bird, a light color is only at the head, neck and abdomen. In some places, the white color changes to a bright red hue. Black and white stripes go from the beak to the eyes, and under the beak itself there are a couple of black feathers that at first glance may resemble a beard. The iris of the bearded man is white or yellowish with a red border. By the way, the beak of the individual has a gray color. The back of the bird is covered with black and white feathers, and the tail is long and resembles a wedge in its appearance. The paws of the bearded vulture are also gray in color.
Juveniles of this species are slightly different from adults in their appearance. Bearded vultures are much darker. Their abdomen is light white in color, but the rest of the body has black-brown tones. She has a blue beak and green paws.
By the way, the bearded man is characterized by sexual dimorphism, that is, the female and male do not differ from each other in appearance and body size.
If you suddenly see this species in a zoo or on the territory of Russia, then you may not be able to distinguish it from this description. This is easily explained. Although we have described their plumage quite accurately, it can vary in hue. A bird may, for example, have only a few white feathers, and all the rest will be orange instead of yellowish.
Where does the bearded vulture live?
The habitat of this species of hawks is, in principle, similar to the rest of the family. Bearded Vulture can be found in such parts of the continent as Southern Europe, Eastern and Southern Africa, Central Asia. A few years ago, a small number of birds were brought to the Alps to see how they would take root there. The experiment was successful, but the species still develops best in Europe. On the territory of Russia, the bearded man can be seen in Altai or the Caucasus.
The bearded vulture is essentially a mountain bird, so he is not afraid of great heights. It can live both high in the mountains and near the plains, but only in order to be closer to prey. The height of his stay on the rocky terrain varies from 500 to 4000 meters. This is official data, but as it turned out a long time ago, a bird can live even higher than the declared numbers. Not so long ago, a group of researchers discovered this species at an altitude of 7000 meters above sea level. On higher elevations, birds choose more or less protected places, such as caves or depressions, to hide from possible precipitation or the scorching sun.
What does the bearded vulture eat?
The diet of such a bird as the Bearded Vulture is not very diverse. For most of its life, a representative of the fauna feeds on dead animals, that is, carrion. In its diet, it is similar to several species from the hawk family. Birds usually find bones that people throw away after their dinner or feed on animals that died of natural causes near their habitat.
Occasionally, a bearded man can eat a small mammal, such as a hare. This happens if that species is really hungry. From time to time, the bearded vulture may even try to grab a pet that has lost its vigilance.
Thanks to its strong primary feathers, the bearded vulture tries to push its prey from a height where it can be. After a small animal falls, a bird flies up to it to check if it is alive. Convinced of the opposite, the bearded man begins his meal.
Above, we described most of the situations in which the bearded man attacks his prey, but his most favorite delicacy is precisely the bones of animals, and mainly the brain ones. Their stomach easily digests them due to their high acidity.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Bearded vultures, although aggressive, still live in small flocks. Quarrels with each other are rare. Thanks to their biological data, they can fly so high that a bird may seem like just some incomprehensible point in the sky to a person standing on the ground. The bearded vulture flies so excellently that sometimes even a certain sound is heard, which it makes with feathers dissecting the air.
The voice of the bearded man is very sharp. If you have not heard how this bird screams before, then you are unlikely to be able to understand that this is this particular species. She makes whistling sounds. They can be both loud and quiet. Scientists argue that the voice directly depends on the specific mood of the bird at the moment.
Interesting fact: the bearded vulture is depicted on the postage stamp of Azerbaijan in 1994.
When the bearded vulture noticed his potential prey, then he does not fall on it from a great height, like eagles. It starts spinning in the sky and gradually descends. The attack on the victim occurs from a fairly close distance to the ground.
The bird does not fall to the ground unless absolutely necessary. Due to the rather large and massive wings, takeoff becomes a rather problematic task for her. For her rest, she chooses various ledges on the rocks. From them, the bird rushes down and without any problems opens its wings for further flight.
Social structure and reproduction
Unlike many birds, the bearded vulture breeds during the winter months. For nesting, these birds prefer high places of 2-3 thousand meters in the mountains, caves or rock crevices. Already in mid-December, bearded men occupy a fairly large area, reaching several square kilometers.
The material for the base of the nest is twigs, tree branches, and wool, grass, and hair are suitable for lining. Already in January, the female is ready to lay a clutch, usually consisting of 1-2 oval eggs, the color of which has a whitish tint. The egg pattern is variable, with brown spots often occurring. Sometimes they are monochromatic. Mostly the female incubates the eggs, but the male also takes part in this. After 53-58 days, the long-awaited chicks are born. Unlike adults, they are very vociferous and often squeak.
Interestingly, birds are considered monogamous, so both parents are also involved in raising the cubs. The male and the female are also engaged in the extraction of food for children together. They find the bones, fly higher, break them into small pieces and bring them to the chicks. So bearded chicks live long enough — 106-130 days, and then their parents fly away from the nest, giving their offspring the opportunity to live on their own.
Natural enemies of the bearded vulture
The bearded vulture is a very large and strong bird of prey, therefore, we can say that it simply does not have natural enemies. Her only enemy is herself. This conclusion is explained by the fact that bearded vultures often feed on carrion, but not all dead animals are useful for themselves. Now a person is rapidly developing infrastructure and little follows the environment. Who knows what the little hare has eaten throughout his life. His dead body may contain toxins and other harmful substances.
Also, a person can be fully attributed to the enemies of this individual. The bird often becomes a victim of hunters to create stuffed animals. People equip more and more new territories, thereby shifting the natural range of many animals, including the bearded vulture. Not all birds are able to adapt to new climatic conditions, so many of them die. Based on this, we can conclude that a person with his egoism is more an enemy to birds in captivity than a friend.
Population and status of the species
Meeting the bearded man — quite a rare occurrence. Many factors have contributed to this at the moment. For example, at the end of the 20th century, the food base was reduced due to a decrease in the number of wild and domestic ungulates. Birds often fall into traps with almost no chance of getting out. Bearded vultures more often than other birds of prey fall into this deadly trap. Just imagine, the population has declined so much over the past century that at the moment there are only a few dozen to 500 pairs in each mountain range of Eurasia. Things are not so sad in Ethiopia, where the number of bearded men in their usual ranges is from one and a half to two thousand pairs. An even greater number of these rare birds can be found in some places in the Himalayas. Also, the decline in the population was influenced by the human factor, which consists in the growth and development of infrastructure, which is the construction of roads, houses, power lines. One of the frequent problems of bearded men is precisely a collision with power lines.
Due to all of the above factors, the range of birds began to decline significantly, which contributed to a decrease in the population, this affects many animals and is one of the most common causes of the appearance of species that are on the verge of extinction. Usually, when one species goes extinct, other animals also suffer. So here, bearded men play an important role in the food chain and are the “orderlies” of nature. Therefore, not only animals will suffer from the complete extinction of this species, but also the surrounding area. This can lead to serious consequences, which is why it is so important to take care of the safety of this species.
Protection of the bearded vulture
If you look at the statistics, you can see a decrease in the habitat of the bearded vulture. This is due both to the extermination of the bird and to the development of infrastructure. The bird has recently begun to disappear from southern and northern Africa, as well as from some parts of eastern Europe.
At the moment, the bearded vulture has a conservation status of NT, which means that the species is close to a vulnerable position. This category was given to the bird by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which annually updates its Red List. It also includes various animals and plants.
The bearded man has been included in the Red Book of Russia for quite a long time. In our country, it develops better in captivity, however, thanks to being included in the list of protected species, its population is slowly but surely increasing in its natural environment.
The bearded vulture is unique a bird that needs our care. At the moment, the whole world takes care of its population. Let’s not remain indifferent to the extinction of animals on our planet. There is no need to break the already existing food chain that nature has created, because the absence of at least one link in it can lead to big problems for the whole world as a whole.