The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)
A bearded vulture is a large bird with a wingspan of up to 3 meters. The bird got its name in Russian because of black long feathers near its beak. In Kyrgyzstan, it is found in all the ranges of the Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai Mountains. It prefers high and mid-mountainous areas. It is a sedentary bird species. Its nest is arranged high up on rocks in niches. Laying eggs begins early in February and March. Laying contains one, rarely two eggs, and incubation lasts from 55 to 60 days. Only one chick usually survives.
In addition to meat, the main diet of bearded vultures consists of various animal bones. He has an ability to digest bones because of the high acidity of gastric juice. Bearded vultures lift large bones into the air and throw them onto rocks, and then they swallow broken bones, and bone marrow enables these scavengers to obtain a high-caloric diet, ensuring their survival in harsh mountain conditions. While searching for food bearded vultures make long flights low over mountain slopes following their topography precisely.
The bearded vulture is listed in the Red List of Kyrgyzstan, as well as in the International Red List with a status of NT (as near threatened). There is no accurate data on the number of bearded vultures in Kyrgyzstan. Conservation measures have to include the protection of nesting sites and the organization of information campaigns among the local population.