The lammergeyer: characteristics and curiosities

The lammergeyer belongs to the species Gypaetus barbatus . It is one of the best known birds of prey in Spain, to be located in the past in different mountainous regions, all of them higher than 1000 meters.

Unfortunately, due to different circumstances, populations have drastically decreased in recent years. time. At present the only population of this species existing in our country is located in the Pyrenean Range.

General characteristics

The vulture has always Respect and fear in equal parts . Its extended wings reach a span between two and three meters long, which, together with its strong and curved beak, feed the legend that hangs over this species.

A striking feature of this species is Its striking plumage, which undergoes different transformations, from breeding is born until it matures to an adult individual. Throughout its growth, the lammergeyer experiences two molting cycles.

The first cycle begins in its first year of age until the fourth year. The second cycle occurs from the third to the seventh year, although it can vary individually.

In addition, this species presents sexual dimorphism. Sexual dimorphism makes it possible to differentiate females from males thanks to different traits that define their external physiognomy. For example, females of this species are larger in size and weight. Also in the length and height of the peak or in the length of the tail.

Quebrantahuesos: Habitat

Food and habitat

They have a bad reputation due to their characteristic type of feeding, since they are necrophages. However, its diet is based fundamentally on the consumption of bone components in order to survive. This particular type of diet is called an osteophagus and, currently, this species is the only one recognized worldwide with this type of diet.

In order to deepen the type of prey captured by this great bird, scientists must make direct observations to collect more objective data when quantifying the diet of this species.

Margalida et al. (2016) determined that, for the most part, the sheep or goat groups, as well as the rabbit group (rabbits), were the selected prey. On the contrary, there was a negative tendency towards those animals belonging to the bovine, equine or porcine groups.

Normally, adult specimens are capable of maximum intake of bones with a size of 250 millimeters long and 35 millimeters wide. To solve the problem and be able to ingest larger bones, use the breakers.

Breakers are rocky surfaces against which they throw the bones to destroy them. Thus, they can ingest them. The location of the breakers is usually in areas near the nests, with slopes and exposed to the wind.

Usually, the adult individual stores the bones in the innkeepers -where he prepares and ingests the bones- , the breakers and the nests.

Quebrantahuesos: feeding

Its distribution area is located in areas with little human population and not in infrastructures derived from human action. Mainly, they are concentrated in mountain systems.

Curiosities of the lammergeyer

One practice observed in juveniles is kleptoparasitism.However, polyandrous trios have been observed in the Pyrenees. It is believed to be due to habitat saturation, which makes it difficult for birds to settle at reproductive age.

The Life + 'Redbeard-Bone' project 2013-2018 is focused on the recovery and preservation of this raptor bird in the National Parks of Picos de Europa, Ordesa and Monte Perdido, belonging to the Natura 2000 network.

In addition to this project, other targeted programs and managed by the Foundation for the Conservation of the Bearded Vulture (FCQ) have been carried out in both parks for more than 21 years. The main objective is that this bird of prey, which is in the National Catalog of Species Threats in the category Endangered Species , reduce its level of danger.

According to the editors of this project, the survival of the Spanish population of the bearded vulture is conditioned to three main factors :

  • Its small population size.
  • Its restricted range of distribution (Pyrenean Range).
  • Difficulty of successfully completing the colonization of new territories.

If this article has Interesting result, you can find other related items such as The helmet hornbill, a bird with a bill more expensive than the marble . And, to know a little more about this particular bird, the article Curiosities of the Bearded Vulture is fascinating.