Mongolia Monday- Wildlife Profiles: Cinereous Vulture

Juvenile vulture, Baga Gazriin Chuluu, July 2010

Species: Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus)

Vulture nest, Ikh Nart, April 2005

Weight, length: Cinereous vultures are the largest eurasian bird of prey and one of the largest flying birds. They are 98–120 cm (39–47 in) long with a 2.5–3.1 m (8.2–10 ft) wingspan and weigh 7–14 kg (15–31 lb)

Adult and juvenile on nest, near Baga Hairhan Uul, July 2010

Conservation Status: Near Threatened (IUCN Red List)

Nest on the face of Zorgol Uul, July 2011

Habitat Preference: Mountains, rocky uplands, forests

Vulture on nest, Ikh Nart, April 2005

Best places to see cinereous vultures: Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Baga Gazriin Chuluu Nature Reserve, but common in many parts of the country.

Vulture at Baga Gazriin Chuluu, July 2009

Interesting facts:

-They are also known as the European black vulture due to the very dark color of the juveniles. The adult’s head plumage gets lighter as the bird ages.

– It has recently been established through the identification of wing-tagged birds, that a number of juvenile birds from Ikh Nart are migrating to South Korea during the winter. They are showing up at feeding stations.

– It is more common for the species to nest in trees in western parts of its range, but in Mongolia nests on cliffs are more often seen. At Ikh Nart the birds nest in some of the elm trees and a bird was recently photographed on a nest built in a larch tree in the northern mountains.

An Earth Day Album Of 25 Endangered/Threatened Species I’ve Seen

It’s clear that one lesson we, as a species MUST learn, is to share. All of these animals have just as much right to be here as we do. As they go, in the end, so shall we.

I’ve never made a point, for the most part, of specifically seeking out endangered or threatened species to photograph for my paintings. But, as it’s happened, in less than ten years I’ve seen two dozen, plus one, all in the wild. Quite a surprise, really.

Sometimes they’ve been pretty far away, but that in no way diminished the thrill of seeing them. Close-ups in a zoo or other captive animal facility can be useful, within certain limits, but seeing a wild animal in its own habitat, even at a distance, is much more satisfying and gives me ideas and information for my work that I couldn’t get any other way.

In no particular order, because they are all trying to survive on this planet:

Takhi, Hustai National Park, Mongolia
Monk Seal, Kauai, Hawaii, United States
Wolf, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States
White-napped crane, Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve, Mongolia
White Rhino, Lewa Downs Conservancy, Kenya
Laysan Albatross, Kauai, Hawaii, United States
Tule Elk, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, United States
Rothschild's Giraffe, Soysambu Conservancy, Kenya
Nene, Hawaii Big Island, Hawaii, United States
Desert Bighorn, Anza-Borrego State Park, California, United States
Grizzly Bear, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States (Bear 264)
Saker Falcon, near Hangai Mountains, Mongolia
Green Sea Turtle, Hawaii Big Island, Hawaii, United States
Grevy's Zebra, Lewa Downs Conservancy, Kenya
Lammergeier, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Mongolia
California Condor, Central Coast, California, United States
African Lion, Masai Mara, Kenya
Hawaiian Hawk (Juvenile), Volcano National Park, Hawaii Big Island, Hawaii, United States
Siberian Marmot, Hustai National Park, Mongolia
Whooper Swans, Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve, Mongolia
Cheetahs, Masai Mara, Kenya
Apapane, Hawaii Big Island, Hawaii, United States
Trumpeter Swans, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States
Cinereous Vulture (Juvenile), Baga Gazriin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Mongolia
Argali, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Mongolia