The breeding season varies in timing geographically. Usually the eggs are laid in mid-winter and they hatch in early spring. In the Pyrenees, egg laying occurs between December and February. In the Alps, eggs are laid during the end of January or beginning of February. Normally, the female lays one to two eggs at a time and incubates them for around 53 to 60 days before hatching. Parents feed the second chick only if the first egg doesn’t hatch. Within first few weeks the second chick falls prey to its older sibling. The chicks fledge after 100 to 130 days.
Till then, they stay in the nests. Both parents feed them. They bring meat for them. The large nests look messy as they are made of twigs, but the thick platforms inside the nests are made softer and comfortable with wool, hair, dung, and dried skin. Each pair dominates a large territory within which the nest is built. Their favorite sites include crags, rocky ledges, or small caves (depressions in cliffs). The young birds may roam over an enormous territory, but they remain dependent on their parents for up to two years. The average lifespan of a bearded vulture in the wild is 21.4 years. But they have a life expectancy of about 40 years in captivity.
As these birds eat bones that are dry, they regularly drink water. Sometimes, they eat live tortoises, smaller birds like partridges and pigeons, hyraxes, and hares. They seize tortoises, fly to some height, and drop them on rocks, so that the hard shells are broken. They may attack larger animals like ibex, goats and steenbok. The animals caught unaware usually fall off the rocky edges to their deaths. Usually, their diet consists more of bones (70% bone marrow), meat (25%), and skin (5%) of carcasses. At times, they patiently wait to devour on the bones till the other scavengers clean the meat off the carcasses. While resting, they try to break medium-sized bones by hammering them on rocks, with their bill.
There are no adverse effects of bearded vultures on humans. In fact, their eating habits promote fast disposition of rotting remains of dead animals. As described above, they often feed on older carcasses and offal, clearing even the bones that other scavengers would not eat. They help reduce the chances of diseases and keep the ecosystem clean.