Deep Dive: Egyptian Vulture

by OBDK on September 19, 2022

Egyptian Vultures are unique because they use tools to help them eat. If an Egyptian Vulture finds an Ostrich egg to eat, it will go find a rock and toss it at the egg to break it open.1 These birds are found in Europe in countries such as Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Bulgaria, and Greece. They stand 22-27 inches tall and have a wingspan of 5-5.5 feet.2


These vultures have yellow or orange heads and white, spiky feathers on their necks. Their wings are black and white.2 They used to be worshipped as a symbol of the Egyptian goddess Isis.3


Egyptian Vultures migrate between Europe and Africa. They breed in Europe and then winter in the Sahara. Migration between these two places is dangerous for these birds and they face threats from:3


  • Powerlines
  • Chemicals
  • Illegal hunting 
  • Wildlife trafficking 


About 50% of young Egyptian Vultures don’t make it through their first migration.2


They are monogamous and will travel between their breeding grounds and their wintering grounds with their mate. They’ll use the same nest year after year and add onto it as they go. Females will lay two eggs and both females and males will incubate them. Once hatched and fledged, the offspring go off on their own around the same time as migration season arrives.1


These vultures have an important role in eliminating carcasses that could carry diseases from the environment. They also go after insects, reptiles, mammals, and eggs.1 Egyptian Vultures tend to be smaller than other vultures, and so they don’t have the first pick at a carcass. They’ll have to wait until the others finish before they can dive in.2


This is unlike the King Vulture, which is big enough that they often dominate feeding sites. Read more about it here and check out our other blogs on vultures: 


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