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Cinereous Vulture

Next in my series of gouache paintings for the Shanghai Natural History Museum. The cinereous vulture, Aegypius monachus, is a large bird of prey endemic to central Asia and portions of Europe, where it is currently being reintroduced. As an Old World vulture, the cinereous is only distantly related to the vultures of the Americas, which have relatively similar coloration and habits. Old World vultures are members of Accipitridae, the familiar group of birds of prey which includes the hawks, harriers, eagles and kites. New World vultures, by contrast, are their own family (Cathartidae) which includes the condors. 

This makes the cinereous vulture the largest true bird of prey in the world, with wingspans approaching 11 feet in length and with weights up to 31 pounds in the largest (female) individuals. Despite cursory similarities, Old and New World vultures are fundamentally different in a number of ways. Like other raptors, the cinereous vulture has extraordinarily good eyesight, which it uses to locate carrion (or other vultures circling it). The American vultures, by contrast, rely primarily on smell to locate meals. Old World vultures also show some of the predatory adaptations that evolution has honed to a fine point in other accipitrids: most notably remarkably strong bills and grasping taloned feet, which enable them to indulge in occasional predatory behaviors on top of scavenging. 

The cinereous is currently listed as near-threatened due to poisoning (to control predators), carrion reduction (from improving standards for hygiene on farms), trapping and hunting, and habitat destruction. Recent reintroduction efforts in Europe have resulted in a mild but hopefully improving reversal. 

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ScaleBound's avatar
You're incredible with feathers. 
Pelidus's avatar
En los buitres se encuentra una belleza que refleja una fusión de lo elegante con lo sombrío, con lo ominoso y con lo inquietante. La postura pone una señal de territorialidad que expresa deseos de soledad, aunque la soledad es poco común en buitres vistos desde una perspectiva objetiva. El plumaje no destaca como estrambotico sino como un accesorio necesario para mantener la temperatura en numero estable. La mirada impiadosa es una contradiccion para con su naturaleza carroñera y oportunista, y que para mi son unos animales análogos a las hienas y ratas. 
Kazuma27's avatar
Simply gorgeous, glad to see you're great even with modern raptors... ;)
Akuba-Link's avatar
So realistic ! BRAVO !
herofan135's avatar
Looks awesome, love the feather details! :wow:
ScarabsCorner's avatar
Midiaou's avatar
Phenomenal piece! EWilloughby 
K-Zlovetch's avatar
Being from a country that holds a major wintering site this has to be my favourite vulture. These things are HUGE.

It's also the feathered dinosaur shown in the meme "you did not just call feathered dinosaurs unintimidating".
Dontknowwhattodraw94's avatar
Ah, my favorite vulture! You did it really well :)
karleoni's avatar
how do you make gouache do that? you got mad skills girl mmmm-mmmhhhh
Celestial-Rainstorm's avatar
Yet another magnificent piece of work! 
Glaiceana's avatar
Great painting, as always! :)
Hallowed-Talon's avatar
Yay, my favorite vulture <3 Looks outstanding!
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