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Bearded Vulture – Sofia


Sofia was hatched March 15th, 1999 at the Almaty Zoo in Kazakhstan. She joined us in 2020 to initiate a breeding program for the species in the United States, and she is currently the only one of her species in this hemisphere. World Bird Sanctuary is committed to the conservation breeding of endangered vulture species, and we are working to find a mate for her to help preserve the species.

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  • From the moment of her arrival, Sofia won the hearts of all of her keepers with her highly inquisitive personality and clear willingness to be a team player!
  • If there is ever a task to be completed in her enclosure, be it weeding or cleaning or even wrapping perches, Sofia is RIGHT there ready to get involved!
  • During the day Sofia can frequently be spotted bounding somewhat clumsily along her many walkways to get the best seat in order to watch whatever activity is closest to her, while in the evening she lays down in her favorite evening shelter with her chin resting on her perch as a pillow. A curious, and occasionally mischievous, bird Sofia loves to have pieces of bark passed to her from her trainers which she will then carry around for a good portion of the day.


Scientific Name:

  • Gypaetus barbatus.


  • Southern Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, subcontinent of India, and Tibet.


  • High mountainous regions. Prefer desolate, lightly populated areas.


  • Consists almost entirely of bone marrow (up to 90 percent of their diet); usually picking off of the bone scraps other predators like wolves and golden eagles leave behind.
  • The stomach acid of a Bearded vulture is around the pH of 1, so large bones are digested in roughly 24 hours. They can swallow bones whole or break brittle bones, up to the size of a lamb’s femur.
  • Live prey may include tortoises, hares, marmots, and goats.


  • Mated pairs will lay one to two eggs in mid-winter, that hatch at the beginning of spring. The nest consists of a large pile of sticks. Babies fledge the nest after around 100 – 130 days.
  • Intelligent birds, this species of vulture has learned to drop big bones too large to swallow and live prey from great heights onto rocks below, then eating the delicious remains left behind.


  • Wedge-shaped tail and long, narrow wingtips.
  • Unlike most other vulture species, the Bearded vulture has a feathered head.
  • Plumage coloration is mostly dark gray, white, and rusty brown. Black feathers under chin are what associates them with the name ‘bearded.’
  • Body shape is slender and elongated.
  • Silent except during breeding season when they are known to display shrill whistling. Their breeding displays also include a call that sounds like “cheek-acheek” which they make around the nest.
Adoption Level

Fan, Friend, Sponsor