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Himalayan Griffon Vulture

Common name for an Old World vulture, with the scientific name Gyps himalayensis and belonging to the family Accipitridae. This massive bird is around 110 centimeters tall and has a mostly brownish body and wing-coverts, with sandy-off-white spots, a white downy head and neck, and a thick pale to yellowish bill. Himalayan Griffon Vultures get lighter as they age and older species may be mostly sandy-off-white in colour. Their legs and feet are pinkish grey. These birds are scavengers, feeding mostly from carcasses of animals, which they find by hovering over open country and mountains (fig.), which they often do in flocks. These vultures rely on favourable wind conditions, like thermals and updrafts, to soar at great heights. They can cruise for more than six hours and cover more than 160 kilometers in a day, scanning the ground for carrion. In doing so, immature birds are known to stray from their breeding territory in Central Asia and may be found as far off course as Singapore (fig.). Also simply called Himalayan Griffon and in Thai known as ih-raeng sih nahm-tahn himalay. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1), (2) and (3).