Today we start a new section of our blog, dedicated to species profiles. We start with the Eurasian Black Vulture Aegypius monachus.
This species is a solitary tree nester that survives in good numbers across large tracts of Central Spain, in Sierra Morena (Andalucia) and parts of Extremadura in particular.
In these remote forests and dehesas (parklands) they share the territory with another Iberian tree nesting jewel - the Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti.
The Black Vulture is a species that is typical of the forests of the mid-latitude belt, from Iberia eastwards into Central Asia. Its success has been the exploitation of trees as nest sites, keeping it well clear of the colonies of cliff-nesting Griffon Vultures, and allowing it to reach carcasses ahead of the Griffon.
This has given rise to the established, but false, idea that Griffon Vultures are subordinate to Black Vultures and must wait the arrival of the powerful Black Vulture to tear into the hide of dead animals. While a Black Vulture can oust a Griffon Vulture in a one-to-one contest, and it can even barge into a group, the reality is that it gets easily overwhelmed by a mass of Griffons and often stays along the edge of the activity picking up scraps.
Though considered sedentary, Black Vultures will disperse southwards in autumn and some regularly cross the Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa.
The old territory of al-Andalus remains Europe's stronghold for this rare species, the largest of Palaearctic vultures