The Egyptian vulture, a bird of prey that lives in Israel and feeds on carcasses, is one of the few birds that use tools in nature. In its natural habitat, the Egyptian vulture throws stones at the ostrich eggs that it finds, until it breaks their shell, and then eats the contents. When the Egyptian vulture finds smaller eggs, it grasps them in its bill and then throws them down onto the ground or onto rocks in order to break them.
In the Zoological Garden, two geese eggs were abandoned on the grass and were placed to incubate in an incubator, but did not hatch. When we understood that nothing would come of the eggs, they were put into the Egyptian vulture's enclosure in order to diversify his daily routine and diet. When the vulture saw the eggs, he picked them up in his bill and started to throw them onto the ground. When he saw that nothing was happening, this smart creature started to throw the eggs onto the concrete step at the edge of his enclosure, and then broke them easily. We have now provided him with some suitable stones, so he will be able to use them to crack the eggs next time we give him some.

Egyptian vulture cracks an egg

Left – the Egyptian vulture throws an egg onto the ground; Right – the vulture eats the broken egg. The place where the egg had broken can be seen on the concrete step.
Photos: Ron Elazari-Volcani

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