1192. Gyps fulvus.
The Griffon Vulture.
Vultur fulvus, Gm. Syst. Nat. i, p. 249 (1788). Gyps fulvus, Blyth, Cat. p. 32, partim; id. Ibis, 1866, p. 232; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 8, pt.; id. Ibis, 1871, p. 235; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 5; Gurney, Ibis, 1875, p. 88; Blanf. East. Vers, ii, p. 99; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 441; v, p. 217 ; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 196; Hume, Cat. no. 3; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 149. Gyps fulvescens, Hume, Ibis, 1869, p. 356; id. Rough Notes, p. 19; id. S. F. i, p. 148; id. N. & E. p. 5 ; id. S. F. vii, p. 322; id. Cat. no. 3 bis; Adam, S. F. i, p. 367 ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 218; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 369; Barnes, ibid. p. 450; Davidson, S. F. x, p. 285 ; Swinhoe, Ibis, 1882, p. 98 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 4 ; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. iii, p. 207; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 203.
Coloration. Head thickly covered all round with short white hairlike feathers, passing into white down on the neck ; feathers of ruff elongate, lanceolate, whitish, with rufous-brown or fawn-coloured edges, in very old birds dingy white throughout and disintegrated back and wing-coverts varying from brown with a pinkish tinge, through fawn-colour to pale brown, often particoloured, some feathers darker than others, but all with narrow pale shafts, more or less distinct; rump and upper tail-coverts paler fawn, especially along the shafts and edges ; major coverts, scapulars, and tertiaries dark brown with pale edges; quills and tail black or blackish brown; lower parts throughout, including wing-lining, pinkish brown to ochreous buff, with narrow white shaft-stripes, the short crop-feathers generally rather browner.
Younger birds are deeper coloured when freshly moulted, and are distinguished by having the feathers of the back, scapulars, and coverts pointed and the ruff-feathers dark and elongate. The buff-coloured birds appear to be either young or old in worn and faded plumage.
Bill horny brown or dusky yellowish, paler on the culmen in adults, greenish horny in younger birds ; cere black; iris brownish yellow; legs and feet dirty yellow to greenish grey; 3rd primary longest.
Length 41 to 47; tail 13; wing 26-29; tarsus 4.5 ; mid toe without claw 4.25; bill from gape to point 3.1.
Amongst the series of G. fulvescens in the Hume collection I can match all European specimens of G. fulvus available for comparison. It should be remembered that many specimens of Vulture skins in European museums are faded and bleached by exposure; but, so far as I can see, the Indian bird is absolutely identical with the European.
Distribution. Southern and South-western Europe, Northern Africa, and South-western Asia; common in Afghanistan, Baluchistan, the Punjab, Sind, and Rajputana, the range in India extending east as far as Nepal and Sikhim, and south to Khandesh and the Leccan. Ball records the species from Manbhoom, and I once saw a large Vulture, that must, I think, have been this species, on the banks of the Godavari near Dumagudem.
Habits, &c. The Griffon generally breeds on rocky cliffs in colonies, and lays a single white egg, about February, in a loosely constructed nest of sticks. Occasionally, but very rarely, the egg is slightly spotted; the average measurement is 3.65 by 2.7. Solitary nests on trees have been observed in North-western India; but in Sind I have no doubt these Vultures breed on the cliffs of the Khirthar and other ranges, for I saw a pair in copula on January 3rd on the crags, roaring in the most extraordinary way at the time, after the manner of Vultures.