The Egyptian vulture prefers open hills and low mountain ranges. Its main nesting sites are cliffs and rocky slopes, often close to human settlements. The nest is located in niches, ledges and crevices in the cliff face. One nest is usually occupied for several years. The species is monogamous; in Ancient Egypt it was revered as a symbol of parental care.
The Egyptian vulture is a migrant. In September both young and adults fly south to spend the winter months in Africa. In spring they fly over thousands of kilometers back to their nesting territories. As soon as the pairs arrive in March-April both birds start improving the nest. First they build or strengthen the base by entwining twigs and branches; then they meticulously cover the interior with wool and rags. In the end the nest is decorated with bones, tortoise shells and other leftovers from their diet. In April-May the female lays 1-3 eggs. Both parents sit on the eggs.
Photo: David Fajardo
The Egyptian vulture, as other vultures, feeds mainly on carrion. Therefore the vulture family is known as ‘nature’s caretakers’. The Egyptian’s diet also includes insects, larvae, frogs, lizards and tortoises which it catches alive. It can be seen patrolling the roads in search for road kill. It also frequents local dumpsites. The bird is well-known for its intelligence – it’s among the few bird species in the world to use tools. In Africa the vulture can often be seen breaking abandoned ostrich eggs using a stone.