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SPEA is an Environmental not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support research and conservation of wild birds and their habitats, by promoting sustainable development for the benefit of future generations.
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Bird of the Year 2016
Bird of the Year 2016 – Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vultures are ugly, eat rotting meat and are often associated with death and ill-omens. But what is their role in nature? And for each of us? This year, the Bird of the Year campaign seeks to desmistify this bird, so join us in getting to know this small vulture!

Get to know the Egyptian Vulture
In the last 30 years, the Egyptian Vulture has seen its population decline by 50% in Portugal and Spain, and is currently at risk of extinction. This decline was due to several factors associated with habitat quality, disturbance and persecution.

Scientific name: Neophron percnopterus

Characteristics: it is the smallest of the Iberian vultures; it is a bird of prey with essentially black and white plumage, a yellow face and long wedge shaped tail. Juveniles are completely brown, with the same tail shape.  

Occurrence and distribution: it is a summer migrant, and can generally be seen in Portugal and Spain from the end of February, staying at the breeding areas from March to September. In the autumn in migrates south, spending the winter in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Portugal, it is found mostly in Trás-os-Montes, in the Douro International. Occasionally it is also found in other areas of the country, but during the migration period, hundreds can be seen going through Sagres.

Habitat: It prefers hilly areas, normally river valleys and mountains, nesting in holes and rocky ledges.

Feeding: bird and mammal carcasses; rotting fruits and vegetables. Sometimes they may hunt debilitated animals and eat eggs.

Population size: In Portugal, the Douro International is one of the easiest places to see this species, but occasionally it is also found in other areas of the country. One of the most important subpopulations of the Iberian Peninsula, with 116 pairs, is found in the Douro International region, which includes land from both Portugal and Spain.




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Curiosidades

  • The Egyptian Vulture is the smallest of European vultures;
  • The Egyptian Vulture was loved by pharaohs in ancient Egypt on account of their ability to remove trash and dead animals. For this reason, it is also known as Pharaoh’s Chicken;•    It feeds on eggs, using rocks to break them open. It is one of the rare species of bird that uses a “tool” to get to their food;
  • It is a diurnal bird, and can travel up to 120 Km to find food;
  • It is a solitary species outside the breeding season, and when it is raising chicks;
  • It is a monogamous species and mates for life;
  • Nests can be up to one meter and a half wide, and are made of sticks, wool, rags and food scraps;
  • The female lays two eggs and both parents sit on the eggs during the incubation period which lasts 42 days;
  • The parents feed the chicks with regurgitated food which they ingest until they are3 months old;
  • They become sexually mature at six years of age;
  • Their average life expectancy in the wild is 30 years.







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