The Griffon Vulture

Wildlife of Israel

The Griffon Vulture is an Old World vulture scavenging birds, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. Old World vultures find carcasses exclusively by sight. A particular characteristic of many vultures is a semi-bald head, sometimes without feathers or with just simple down. Historically, it was thought that this was due to feeding habits, as feathers would be glued with decaying flesh and blood. However, more recent studies have shown that it is actually a thermoregulatory adaptation to avoid facial overheating; the presence or absence of complex feathers seems to matter little in feeding habits, as some vultures are quite raptorial. 

More About the Griffon Vulture 

The bird of prey has a body length of about 93–122 cm; with a wingspan of up to 2.8 meters (9.2 feet) and weighing up to 8 kilograms. In-flight, The Griffon Vulture can reach speeds of up to 140 km / h. The color of its feathers is brown-gray (darker colors for the chicks). Its head and upper part of its neck are covered with a very thin plumage. Further down the neck is a white plumage.

Its tail and feathers are blackened. Its legs are short and strong, with curved claws. As he walks on the ground his footsteps are heavy and when he escapes; he spreads his wings and runs in leaps. The beak of The Griffon Vulture is strong, long, broad, and hook-shaped at its upper end. Part of the esophagus is used as a goiter, for occasional food storage. His vision is very sharp and has excellent sights; he is able to distinguish food from a height of hundreds of meters and from a distance of many kilometers.

His Habitat

The Griffon Vulture inhabits a variety of landscapes; from deserts to mountainous landscapes. It erects its nest mostly in rocky areas. It usually finds its prey in open areas for the purpose of quickly locating food from the air. The Griffon Vulture is a sociable bird of prey. The female Griffon Vulture usually lays a single egg and incubates it for about 54 days. The lifespan of a Griffon Vulture in captivity is up to 41.4 years.

Today in the Land of Israel, the population of Griffon Vulture is about 147 individuals (as of April 2019); 110 in the Negev, and 37 in the Carmel and Golan Heights; the number does not include the chicks in the nests. In recent years, the Griffon Vulture population has suffered from a significant reduction; due to poisoning; reduced food sources, electrocution from power lines, and disturbance in nesting places. There is a consistent decrease of about 7% per year in the population. According to the “Red Book of Vertebrates in Israel”, The Griffon Vulture is at regional risk and its future in Israel is in danger. 

On my tours, I show my guests where we can find the Griffon Vulture. For example up north at Mt. Carmel. If not in the wild which is a little hard to spot one with some patience so at the Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve! Or if you’re down south on the way to Eilat so you can see some at Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve.  


Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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Simon Peter


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