(Last Updated on : 10-09-2015)
Himalayan vulture or Himalayan griffon vulture is an Indian bird
with a scientific name "Gyps himalayensis
" . The bird is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae. Closely related to the European griffon vulture (G. fulvus) and once considered a subspecies of it, this species is found along the Himalayas
and the adjoining Tibetan Plateau. It is one of the two largest old world vultures and true raptors.
Structure of Himalayan Vulture
Himalayan Vulture is the largest and heaviest bird found in the Himalayan Mountain Range. Adults have a ruff that is long and pale brown with white streaks. The ruff feathers are long and spiky. The head is covered in down which is yellowish in adults but whitish in immature vultures. The underside and under-wing coverts are quite pale brown or buff, being almost white in some specimens. The legs are covered with buffy feathers and the feet can vary from greenish-grey to white. The upperside is unstreaked, pale buff with the tail quills, outer greater coverts and wing quills being a contrasting dark brown. The inner-secondaries have paler tips. The pale blue facial skin is lighter than the dark blue in Gyps fulvus with this species having a yellowish bill. In flight the long fingers are splayed and there is a pale patagial stripe on the underwing. The wing and tail feathers are dark and contrast with the pale coverts and body, one of the best methods to distinguish this species from the slightly smaller griffon vulture. The feathers on the body have pale shaft streaks. They are distinguished from the Indian vulture (G. indicus), which can somewhat be similar in colour by being much larger with a stouter, more robust bill.
Younger birds have a pale part to the bill and tend to have buffy-white streaks on the scapulars and wing coverts contrasting with dark brown under-parts. They are similar in size to the cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus), which has a slightly shorter overall length but in large specimens can weigh more than the Himalayan vulture. Weight in Himalayan vultures can range from reportedly as little as 6 kg (13 lb) to as much as 12.5 kg (28 lb). A field study estimated an average of 9 kg (20 lb) for the Himalayan vulture, but weights can vary with conditions from 8-12 kg (18-26 lb). The wingspan of birds varies greatly depending on the method used to measure them and published measurements vary from 2.56 to 3.1 m (8.4 to 10.2 ft), a similar wingspan range as a cinereous vulture.
Concentration of Himalayan Vulture
Himalayan Vulture is found mainly in the higher regions of the Himalayan Mountain Range, the Pamirs, Kazakhstan and on the Tibetan Plateau, with north western limits of the breeding range being in Afghanistan and southern limits in Bhutan. Juvenile birds may however disperse further south and vagrants have been recorded in Thailand, Burma, Singapore and Cambodia.