Griffon vulture

Griffon vulture

Griffon Vulture of Cres Island

The griffon vulture is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. The griffon vulture is 95 cm to 105 cm long with a 2.4 m to 2.8 m wingspan, and one of the largest flying birds in the world. The vultures average 8.5 kg but can weigh up to 15 kilograms.

Tourists visiting this part of the island are always left amazed with the way of life and the appearance of griffon vultures. Besides the albatross and the condor, they are the largest flying birds.

The vulture has a small head, which it keeps lowered in flight, large wings and a short tail. Adult birds have white fluff covering the head and a white neck ruff, while young birds are darker in color.

The griffon vulture’s main habitat is on Cres Island, while a lesser number of vultures can be found on Krk, Prvić and Plavnik islands. The locals on Cres call the griffon vulture “Orel”, which is how the village Orlec got its name.

The griffon vultures are nature’s cleaners but are not aggressive birds. The survival of vultures has been connected to the lives of shepherds and their sheep for thousands of years. Since vultures feed only on dead sheep they have a key role in the ecosystem. The vulture cannot survive without shepherds, nor can the shepherd survive without the vulture. The enzymes in the vulture’s digestive system kill off bacteria and help prevent the spread of diseases.

These scavengers live in pairs and will seek out a new partner only if their first partner dies. The female lays a single egg per year. During the ensuing months the couple regularly switches to keep the egg warm until it hatches.  After 2-3 months, baby birds try to fly for the first time.