Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Near Threatened

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)


French: Gypaète barbu German: Bartgeier Spanish: Quebrantahuesos
Other common names: Lammergeier

Vultur barbatus


, 1758,

Santa Cruz, near Oran, Algeria


Individual variation in plumage considerable, and geographical variation based largely on size. Forms aureus (Europe and W Asia) and hemachalanus (higher mountains of C Asia) sometimes recognized#R, but probably better subsumed within nominate barbatus#R. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. b. barbatus (Linnaeus, 1758) – NW Africa (mainly in High Atlas, Morocco) and SW Europe (Pyrenees, Corsica) through SE Europe (Balkan region, where almost extinct), Crete, Turkey, Caucasus, Egypt, Middle East (also in SW Arabia#R), Iran and Afghanistan to E Kazakhstan, Russian Altai, N & W Mongolia and NW China and, in S, to W Pakistan, Tibetan Plateau, Himalayas and C China. Reintroduced in the Alps (mainly S France).
  • G. b. meridionalis Keyserling & J. H. Blasius, 1840 – locally in NE & E Africa, E South Africa and Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    94–125 cm; 4500–7100 g; wingspan 231–283 cm. Unmistakable large raptor with small beard of blackish feathers at base of bill, creamy-yellow irides, red eye... read more


    Mostly silent. During displays gives shrill whistle and twittering, falcon-like “cheek-echeek-... read more


    Mountain ranges with rugged topography and rocky sites at which species nests and breaks bones;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet unique among vertebrates in being dominated by bones, which make up 70–90% of all food. Prefers old bones to fresh ones, perhaps... read more


    Early laying: Dec–Feb or early Mar in Europe, Asia and N Africa; May–Jul in South Africa. Usually monogamous, but polyandrous... read more


    Largely sedentary (although with enormous home range) aside from natal-dispersal movements of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Since 1994, not considered globally threatened, but evidence of a moderately rapid population... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., de Juana, E., Marks, J.S., Sharpe, C.J. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).