The Black vulture


The Black (Cinereous) vulture (Aegypius monachus Linnaeus, 1766) is one of the largest raptors in the world, and the largest vulture in Western Palearctic, with wingspan of about 3 m, dark brown plumage, broad wings and short neck.
body length: 110–120 cm
wingspan: 250–295 cm
weight: 7–14 kg

Breeding and migration

Builds nest on top of trees, on steep slopes or trees on rocks that can withstand the huge nest. Prefers to breed always away from human settlements and areas with human activity. The nesting habitat should be in close proximity to open spaces with extensive livestock or other sources of food (intensive farms that place animal carcasses or offal in open spaces). Concentrate in large flocks in areas with food abundance. In Europe the adult birds are mostly sedentary, while juveniles disperse over larger areas.



The global population of the species is estimated approximately at 7 800–10 500 pairs or 15 600–21 000 mature individuals.
Breeds in Europe and Asia, with highest numbers in Western Europe – Spain (80–90 % of the population or 2548 pairs, 2018), Portugal (18 pairs, 2016) and France (37 pairs, 2018). The Black vulture became extinct from Albania, Croatia, Italy, North Macedonia and Bulgaria, and probably is decreasing in Asia, where no conservation measures are implemented. With small and isolated populations in Ukraine and Greece (Dadia), where remains the only breeding colony of the species on the Balkans.

© Dobromir Dobrinov

Distribution in Bulgaria

During the 19th and the first decades of 20th century the Black vulture was widespread in Bulgaria, but with lower numbers compared with the Griffon vulture.
Until 1960 the species numbers has extremely decreased and barely seen in the country. The last proofed nest with fledgling has been recorded in 1993 in the area of Studen Kladenets during an expedition, led by a Green Balkans’ team. Unfortunately in 1994 the nest was abandoned. There are no evidence for breeding Black vultures in the period 1995-2006 in the territory of Bulgaria. As a result of the conservation measures and the regularly supplementary feeding in the area of Byala reka and Valchi dol reserve, feeding individuals are observed frequently. The largest group of 42 Black vultures is registered in 2000 on the feeding station in Pelevun, maintained by Green Balkans.
The presence of Black vultures in the area of Eastern Rhodope is based mainly on the movement of individuals, breeding in Dadia Forest National Park in Greece, which is in close proximity to the Bulgarian border.