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Aegypius monachus

warning Regionally Extinct

The Cinereous Vulture is classified as Regionally Extinct (RE). It apparently became extinct in the early 20th century and since then no nesting attempts by the species have been recorded in Israel (although a few individuals overwinter, pass over and even summer in the region each year). In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was also classified as Regionally Extinct (RE).
RE Current Regional Assessment | RE Previous Regional Assessment | NT World Assessment

Habitats Mediterranean Cliffs, Parks & Woodlands
Presence In Israel Resident
Nesting In Israel Past Breeder
Migration Types Resident
Zoography Zones Mediterranean
Landscape Formations Mountainous, Cliffs
Vegetation Formations Mediterranean Maquis, Mediterranean Garrigue, Steppe
Vegetation Densities Low, Medium
Nest Locations Tree
Diet Types Carrion
Foraging Grounds Ground
Body Sizes Large (over 1000g)
Threat Factors Pesticide Poisoning, Lead Poisoning, Direct Persecution

The Cinereous Vulture is a very large and dark scavenger that inhabits forested mountain slopes and nests on trees. The mature bird is a relatively uniform dark brown, except for a pale crown and a featherless head. The juveniles are darker and their feathers are shiny black. Its beak is large and very strong. In flight it can be identified by its long wide rectangular wings and short tail.

The Cinereous Vulture is now a rare winter visitor and passage migrant in the Golan Heights, the Negev and the Arava. In the past, it was recorded breeding in northern Israel. A lone pair nested on the Arbel Cliffs in 1864 (Tristram 1867). Additional observations in the summer months were recorded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Mt. Tabor area, Jericho and Jerusalem, but there is no evidence of additional nesting (Shirihai 1996).

The Cinereous Vulture nests in mountainous areas and on cliffs in Mediterranean or steppe climates, usually on trees. In winter and on migration it is also seen in open flat landscapes.

The Cinereous Vulture nested in northern Israel until the early 20th century. In recent decades, it is a rare passage migrant and winter visitor, mainly in the Golan and Galilee. The probability of the species returning to nest in Israel naturally is estimated to be low.

The probability of the Cinereous Vulture returning to nest in Israel naturally is estimated to be low because of the population decrease in southeastern Europe and the state of conservation in neighboring countries (Syria, Lebanon and Turkey) that does not permit a continuous population from Europe to the Middle East to exist. On the other hand, the species has been prioritized for restoration (Hatsofe & Mayrose 2015, Master Plan for Raptor Conservation in Israel) because of its important function in locating and opening carcasses in forested areas, along with the maturation of natural and planted woodland in northern Israel.

  • הצופה, א. ומירוז, א. 2015. תכנית אב לשימור העופות הדורסים בישראל. מסמך פנימי של רשות הטבע והגנים.
  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel in the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and nesting density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values as calculated from observation records and expert opinions.

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Breeding density values are based mainly on the book Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Occupancy difference 1990-2020

A map that expresses differences in the breeding distribution between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative value - species previously present but is currently absent, positive value - species has not been recorded previously and is currently present, zero - no change in occupancy.

Relative abundance difference 1990-2020

A map that reflects the changes in the relative abundance of the species between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative values - decline in abundance, positive values - increase in abundance, zero - no change in abundance.

Red number

IUCN category

() districts
% of protected sites

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