Gypaetus Barbatus, large (Europe’s biggest) raptor with small “beard” of feathers.Black wings, wedge-shaped tail, red eye-ring and facial mask, neck and underparts orange, resulting from impregnation by mineral particles Juvenile all dark, with broader wings. Race meridionalis has lower tarsus unfeathered and lacks incipient breast band, facial pattern clearer, as lacks black markings and feathers on cheeks and crown.

The species is sedentary. The global population is not concentrated in Europe, but the species persists in Spain (Pyrenees), Turkey, France (Pyrenees and Corsica) and Greece (Crete and the continent). The European population is 162 breeding pairs, with 93 in the EU; additionally North Africa has 5 pairs in Morocco. Only the Spanish and Turkish populations number 50 breeding pairs or more.
The Lammergeier is widely distributed in mountainous regions in Eurasia and Africa with a small proportion of its global range in Europe. There are apparently large populations in East Africa, Central Asia and the Himalayas. The species is resident throughout its range. In Europe, the species now breeds only in Andorra, Spain (regions of Navarra, Aragón and Cataluña, all in the Pyrenees), France (Pyrenees, Corsica and the Alps), Greece (in Crete and on the continent in Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly and the Pindus range), Turkey (throughout Anatolia) and in North Africa, only in Morocco (Atlas range). The total population for Europe and North Africa is ca. 167 pairs of which 148 breed regularly, including 112 pairs in the EU of which 93 breed regularly.
The species was exterminated from Germany by 1855, Switzerland 1884, Bosnia and Herzegovina 1893, Austria 1906, Italy 1913, Romania 1935, Czechoslovakia 1942, Yogoslavia (Serbia, Montenegro) 1956, Bulgaria 1966, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in 1990. The decline continued during 1970-1990 in Greece and Albania. However, the species is locally stable, or decreasing only slightly in Russia, stable in Turkey and France and increasing in Spain. A reintroduction project in the Alps (Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland) has released 68 captive bred birds during 1986-1996 at 5 release sites. The number of free-flying birds is estimated at 38-43. One pair laid eggs in the French Alps in 1996 and hatched one chick in 1997.
The decline is still progressing in Greece. Its main reasons are direct persecution and poisoning. Recently habitat loss, lack of food resources due to abandonment of extensive livestock economy and disturbance by tourism and recreational activities have also had adverse effects.

The Lammergeier forages over montane and sub-alpine vegetation, mostly above 1000 m, where both domestic and wild ungulates occur. In winter and early spring it exploits mid-altitude and steep-cliff areas where snow does not accumulate. In the Pyrenees, during winter and spring, the bird visits the muladares, which are places near the villages where domestic animal carcasses are dumped regularly.

The Lammergeier breeds in caves and on cliffs in mountain ranges at 400-2000 metres above sealevel. It builds a bulky stick nest and lays one or two eggs from late December to early March. Both adults participate in incubation. After 54-58 days the young hatch in February or March and after 112-119 days they fledge in June. Although both chicks may hatch one normally dies due to sibling agression; one of the few records of both chicks fledging is from Ethiopia in 1996. The young remain in the area until the beginning of the next breeding cycle in November. Sexual maturity is at about seven years or later .
Usually monogamous. Polyandrous trios, normally two males and one female, were first recorded in the Pyrenees in 1979. Numbers of such records have increased ever since including in Corsica; 14% of the breeding territories in the Pyrenees were occupied by trios in 1996. Trios have similar reproductive success to that of the pairs which formerly occupied the same territories and also to that of neighbouring pairs. The formation of trios has been attributed to biased sex ratios, low food availability, high breeding density or genetic relatedness between males, but as yet there is no proof of which is the key factor. The phenomenon could have important implications for conservation of the Lammergeier.

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