Osiris – Egyptian Vulture
Hatched: Spring 1998
Osiris is the only Egyptian Vulture to be hatched by the World Bird Sanctuary. He was named after one of the oldest Egyptian gods, who was believed to be the god of life, death, and fertility. Osiris is a real trooper with a long list of credits. He has appeared at the Milwaukee County Zoo, Grants Farm, Roger Williams Zoo in Rhode Island, the Boston Zoo, World Bird Sanctuary, Busch Gardens in Virginia and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Osiris is very smart, a great flyer, learns quickly, and likes to chew on his leash.
In our programs Osiris demonstrates an amazing behavior developed by Egyptian Vultures in the wild. They use tools! Osiris demonstrates this remarkable accomplishment by picking up stones on the stage and dropping them on an Ostrich egg to crack it. How his species originally developed this behavior is not known, but the use of tools by any animal is considered a landmark accomplishment.
Species: Egyptian Vulture
Latin Name: Neophron percnopterus
Description: smallest of all the European vultures; adult plumage white with some black feathers in the wings and tail; juvenile plumage is dark brown, gradually turning white by age five; beak long and slender with a blackish tip; facial skin yellow, turning orange during breeding and nesting seasons
Sex: plumage identical; female somewhat larger than male
Age: 37 years
Weight: 4.5 lbs.
Habitat: plains, wetlands, uplands and mountains
Status: Endangered; Indian population has crashed due to use of NSAID Diclofenac in veterinary medicine, which enters the food chain of the species
Range: Southern Europe, North Africa, Western and Southern Asia Islands
Behavior: Breeding display consists of flying high into the air and diving down, grasping claws on the way: pairs mate for life; nesting sites are rocky ledges and cliffs, preferring well sheltered areas with many cavities as they are colonial nesters; nest, consists of branches and sticks lined with garbage and food remains; 1-3 white eggs with dark brown spots laid between March and April; incubation is 42 days; young fledge at around 90 days
Diet: vulture species to use tools; has learned to break ostrich eggs by picking up and flinging rocks and stones in the egg’s general direction until the egg cracks, then the bird enlarges the hole with its beak to get to the contents
Vocalization: generally silent
- If threatened vultures will vomit on potential predators
- First recorded bird ever to be protected by law; one Pharoah felt so strongly that their job as a natural cleaner was so important he declared killing the bird was punishable by death. The vulture was always seen on the front of the pharaoh’s crown.