Bearded vultures are an extremely large old-world vulture with a rather wide distribution across Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. The beard in the common name refers to the bristly feathers under the chin at the base of the bill. Unlike most other vultures, bearded vultures have fully feathered heads. This is probably because their diet consists more of bones rather than the flesh of carcasses. Bone-eating involves several interesting behaviors. These vultures often wait for other scavengers to pick carcasses clean before getting the fatty bones, which they prefer. To get at the bone marrow, they drop bones (as well as prey items like tortoises, smaller birds, and mammals) from great heights onto rocky areas called “ossuaries.”
Though also referred to as Lammergeier, from the German word Lämmergeier, meaning "lamb-vulture" or “lamb-hawk,” they appear not to prey on lambs. It has been suggested that this species is the “eagle” that killed the greek playwright Aeschylus by dropping a tortoise on his bald head, mistaking it for a rock.
- Bearded Vulture. (2012, February 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:49, March 24, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bearded_Vulture&oldid=476821586
- Margalida, A. 2008. Bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) prefer fatty bones. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 63/2: 187-193.
- Tenenzapf, J. 2011. "Gypaetus barbatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gypaetus_barbatus.html. Accessed 24 March 2012.
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