Griffon vulture – love and devotion in the Uvac canyon
small griffon vulture

Upon a tall cliff overshadowing the river, that carved its bed in this karst, a young bird appeared. At first, it contemplated the depth that lay before it, the green meanders of the river winding between the grey rocks, the towering cliff rising across it, and then looked up at the perfect blue of the cloudless sky. "What an ideal day to fly", - the eaglet thought as it stroked the air with its broad wings.

Down below, on the ledge of the Hollow rock, mommy and daddy eagles emerged. Their heads covered in white feathers, outlined against the grey background.

Griffon vulture in the Uvac canyon, Serbia

"Our daughter is going to fly" - mommy eagle said proudly.

The flapping sound of her broad wings was heard on the cliff overshadowing the gorge and the young eagless pushed herself off the cliff and sailed above the canyon.

"How beautiful she is!" daddy eagle cried out.

"There hasn’t been half a year since she hatched, and she is all ready to fledge" - mommy eagle said.

"Our daughter is all grown up" - said daddy eagle.

"Look at how proud you are now, but remember how disappointed you were once you realized she was a girl" - said, mommy.

"I was not disappointed, I was merely hoping for a son who would one day build his nest near us with his eagless"- said the dad.

"Our daughter may also settle close to our nest" - said mum - "Besides, she will lay an egg and no son can do that. He can only help his eagless keep the egg warm until it hatches."

"He can also provide food" - said the dad and spread his wings to part.

"Where are you going?" the eagles cried.

"To bring some food," said the eagle.

"Take care that it is of the killed animal and not the one that died"- said the eagless – "the animal that died may have been poisoned, and that…"

"I know, I am not a baby" – father eagle said annoyingly.

"Don’t get angry" – said the eagless – "I am always cautious of the poisoned animals. I will never forget my father dying when he ate the liver of the poisoned fox."

"Well, what is one to do, the men protect their animals " – said the eagle – "fighting against the predators."

"But they need not with poison" – cried mother eagless angrily – "and how is it that the tastiest morsel is also the deadliest!?"

"You are thinking about the liver?" – said the eagle and the thought made his mouth water. He craved for that delicious bite and flew away to find it.

He didn’t return in two days.

griffon vulture, Uvac-Serbia

"Why is a dad not coming back" – daughter eagless cried – "he should have been back already."

The eagless lowered her head tearfully – "I fear, my daughter" – she said.

"Let us go find him" – said the young eagless confidently and soared above the canyon in no time. Mother eagless followed her, fearing the worst.

They flew above the crops and village gardens with potatoes and cabbage. Just within the reach of the village, between the haystack, forb and the stubby fence that separated the garden into two parts, for men and for animals, they noticed something laying on the ground. It was a carcass of a jackal that undoubtedly came to the village in search of prey. There he was lying, his stomach torn, and buried deep within his insides was the head of daddy eagle lying over him. Daughter eagless landed on a haystack, and the mother landed by her eagle and loosened up jackal’s insides with her talons. The liver was gone.

"He ate the liver" – she gave a cry that was more of a wail.

Daughter eagless landed by her mother.

"Mother, let us go home, you cannot help him" - she said.

"No, my daughter, I cannot, but I can stay with him so that he is not alone. You go."

"Mother, you cannot stay with him forever. Come home!"

"I will stay just a little longer. Even if it is only for today and tomorrow…."

Her shoulders trembled, and a mournful cry escaped from her chest - "You go – send the word to our neighbors."

Daughter eagless flew back home. She brought word to all the neighboring griffons who lived near them in the Hollow rock.

Two days passed and mother eagless was not coming home.

On the third day, a flock of griffons soared from the Hollow rock and flew towards the village led by the young eagless. They were circling in the skies above the village and calling the grieving eagless:

"Eagless, come with us" - they cried to her.

"I cannot leave him alone" - she replied.

Every day birds came and called, but she remained by her fallen eagle. When last they turned back towards Hollow rock, it seemed to her to hear her daughter’s gentle voice 'I’m hungry Mommy.'

small griffon vulture, the Uvac canyon, Serbia

This unsettled her - "Our daughter is still young – she whispered to the fallen eagle."

Two days later, on Sunday when men armed with guns emerged from the village with their hounds, she flew to the Hollow rock. She didn’t appear disheartened. Life had to go on.

"Let us go hunting! " She commanded the eaglet.

"Hunting?!" – the daughter cried in surprise.

"You will see, fly with me!"

On some distance away from the village, where the fields passed into the forests, they saw men with guns and hounds. A frightened rabbit ran out from the shrubs. One of the hunters aimed his gun and fired. The rabbit stumbled and staggeringly hid in the bushes. The hunters lost their sight of him and continued on their way.

"Come now" – said mother eagless. She landed into the bushes, grabbed the wounded rabbit with her talons and carried him to the shade cast by a lonely oak, lowering him to the ground.

A young eagless landed next to her - "Mother, I feel for him" – she said.

"We didn’t take his life" – mother said – "people did. They killed him and left him. We are only cleaning after them. Such is Nature’s design."

"But he is still alive" – the young eagless objected.

"He no longer is" – mother said sharply – "look inside his eye."

Indeed, the eye of the rabbit was no longer shining with the living light, but dimly, as if put out.

"You are free to eat" – said the old eagless and pierced the rabbit’s belly with her bill.

"And the liver? " the daughter asked.

"The liver too" – said the mother – "everything is clean."

She cut through the rabbits’ insides with her talons and tore a piece of his liver with her bill – "You see?"

And so, the young eagless learned how to hunt and the mother stayed with her for many years to come, even when she brought with her a young griffon form another hollow rock and laid an egg in four winters time.

The story wrote the writer Slobodan Anić

If you want to find out what else is unique in the Uvac canyon, read our article Why everyone is talking about the Uvac canyon.

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Explore Serbia
Explore Serbia is the organization that develops and promote adventure and rural tourism of Serbia and the Balkans. We are adventurers who combine our personal experiences, interests, and knowledge in creating adventure tours.

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