Impurest's Guide to Animals #41 - Lammergeyer

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Edited By ImpurestCheese

Well it’s been one of those ‘hell weeks’ at work which added to the fact my least favourite day of the year is coming makes this a particularly dreary November. Still it could be worse, I could be an endangered Big Headed Turtle stuck up a tree with this weeks animal…

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Issue #41 Lammergeyer

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Aves

Order – Acciptiforms

Family – Acciptireade

Genus – Gypaetus

Species – barbatus

Related Species - Despite being classed as a Vulture, the Lammergeyer and its cousin the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) are genetically distinct from the other birds in this family (1)

Range

Lammergeyers are alpine birds, seldom found below 1000m throughout their range [2]
Lammergeyers are alpine birds, seldom found below 1000m throughout their range [2]

The Bone Crusher

Lammergeyers are large birds, even among the vulture family, with a wingspan of over two meters and a weight of five kilograms. What distinguishes them from most vulture species are their feathered heads, a feature absent in most carrion birds, and their well developed feet. Adult Lammergeyers are usually stained red or orange, not from feeding, but from dust bathing in mineral rich mountain soils.

[3]
[3]

While the majority of its food comes from carrion the Lammergeyer doesn’t readily feed on flesh, but instead prefers bone marrow (being the only bird to regularly feed on the material) which makes up 80% of its diet (2). Unlike other vultures the Lammergeyer actively hunts live prey, with tortoises being one of its preferred targets. Upon catching the tortoise (or a very large bone) the Lammergeyer will drop it repeatedly until it cracks open allowing the bird access to the food inside.

No Caption Provided

This behaviour is learned through observation, and it may take a young Lammergeyer as long as five years to learn how to reliably crack bone open. While it’s always been scarce Lammergeyers are threatened by power cables as well as the premature removal of carcasses by humans. The majority of populations (save the ones in the Ethiopian Highlands) are declining despite being internationally protected.

Five Fun Lammergeyer Facts

The name Lammergeyer translates from German to Lamb Vulture, so named after the incorrect belief that the bird killed lambs.

The Ancient Greeks knew of the Lammergeyer as well. They named it the Ossiphage or Bone Eater for obvious reasons

One Greek Playwright Aeschylus in particular knew of the bird. Prophesied by the Oracle to die from a house falling on him, Aeschylus made sure to be outside in the countryside on the day of his death. Alas despite his best efforts he was killed when a tortoise fell from the sky onto his head, most likely dropped by a Lammergeyer (3).

Eating bones and tortoises is tough on any animal. To that end the Lammergeyer has the strongest stomach acid of any animal, with a pH of 1-2

In Ancient Persia the shadow of a Lammergeyer passing over you was considered a sign of good luck and future happiness (3)

Bibliography

1 - www.arkive.org

2 -. Conservation of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis. By Sonja Krüger". Africanraptors.or3

3 - Pollard, J. r. t. (1947). "The Lammergeyer: Comparative Descriptions in Aristotle and Pliny". Greece & Rome16 (46): 23–28.

Picture References

1 -http://cdn2.arkive.org/media/83/834D155E-E66D-48AC-9727-B669465E48E2/Presentation.Large/Lammergeier-landing.jpg

2 - http://www.planetofbirds.com/Master/ACCIPITRIFORMES/Accipitridae/maps/Lammergeier.jpg

3 - http://cdn2.arkive.org/media/FC/FC16FC09-747F-4423-9F5E-BB61BD0C108F/Presentation.Large/Lammergeier-walking-in-snow.jpg

4 - http://birdpictures.pro/wp-content/gallery/lammergeiers/lammergeier-13.jpg

And boom as the Lammergeyer flies over this blog it drops a dead tortoise and hopefully some good fortune as well. Next week we will learn the colour of chemical warfare (hint it’s shocking pink) but until then critic, comment and check out Impurest’s Bestiary of Past Issues

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

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deactivated-5c901e667a76c

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Everything about it looks majestic... except its face.

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Wolverine008

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That is one f%cked up face. Great job though Impurest!

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#5  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@wolverine08: @xwraith: Two Things

1. Thanks for the comments :-)

2. We all can't have beautiful faces. To be fair it's an improvement on the usual vulture mug

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful (Tim the Turkey Vulture)
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful (Tim the Turkey Vulture)
Yeah right poser (Lana the Lammergeier)
Yeah right poser (Lana the Lammergeier)

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ImpurestCheese

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@ostyo: You know what I'm not surprised. If Braviery and Mandibuzz taught us anything it's that all Eagles are Boys and all Vultures are girls

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Ostyo

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@impurestcheese: Pokémon is never wrong. :)

Well, it might be just because vultures(especially the King) are one of my favorite birds, but I think this gal is beautiful.

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thatguywithheadphones

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It looks like a devious murder.

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cbishop

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#10  Edited By cbishop

@impurestcheese: I like the mythology stuff attributed to it. And the Oracle's prediction seems to have come true, as it was a turtle's house that killed the guy.

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Ostyo

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@xwraith: I get kind of a velociraptor vibe.

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ImpurestCheese

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@thatguywithheadphones: Well besides Greek Playwrights there is no evidence that Lammergeiers have killed anyone. Now eating them is a different matter entirely...on a completely different note do you want to be included in future callouts for this

@xwraith: Yep that Lammergeier used iron rich rocks to bathe in so she came out red instead of orange

@cbishop: It did indeed. A warning to those who tempt fate methinks

@ostyo: Ah cool, vultures are some of my favourite right after the crows. LOL how gothic are we

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Ostyo

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@impurestcheese: Lol Wow, that's hilarious because my favorite bird and animal is the Common Raven.

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laflux

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Cool vulture. One of my favorites. Nice work :)

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#15  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@ostyo: I prefer the European Magpie :-p

@laflux: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it

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#16  Edited By Ostyo
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Knightsofdarkness2

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@xwraith said:

Everything about it looks majestic... except its face.

This.

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ImpurestCheese

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@knightsofdarkness2: Of course

@ostyo: Maybe not but I hand reared a Magpie chick I found abandoned in my garden when i was 16.

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cattlebattle

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ImpurestCheese

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@ostyo: Yep, I was heartbroken when he got shot. Turns out a magpie who is friendly towards humans is an easy target

@cattlebattle: Maybe.

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deactivated-5ee15da0e0aad

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@impurestcheese: Cool article. I actually think I saw one of these when I was in Spain. Or at least a species that really looked like this one.

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cattlebattle

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Straight-Fire

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That bird will give me nightmares. O_O

Anyway, great work as always! ^_^

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ImpurestCheese

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@dboyrules2011: What another nightmare bird? Hmm the Lammergeier and the Satanic Nightjar might be starting a club it seems

@cattlebattle: Yep it;'s from Garth Brooks's Rodeo

@scorpion2501: Potentially, there is a population in the Pyrenees

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@impurestcheese: aw, I thought you were quoting "Nhilism" by Rancid, in which if that was the case, we would have been best friends forever, but Garth Brooks?? No thanks. We can still be "ok" friends though, I just won't tell anybody else I am friends with someone who listens to Garth Brooks :P

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ImpurestCheese

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@scorpion2501: The Pyrenees are Vulture Central to be honest. You get Lammergeyer, Griffon Vulture and Egyptian Vulture in those hills alongside Golden Eagles and other large Birds of Prey

@cattlebattle: Oh hush you, TBH I'm in a mopy mood at the moment so it's generally depressing stuff I'm listening to.

@dboyrules2011: Yep Evil Bird Inc

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@impurestcheese: Oh darn. Now that you made me google those other vultures I'm not so sure anymore.

Oh well, maybe I'll make sure to pay closer attention if I ever go back :P

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#31  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@scorpion2501: The differences are major between the species. The Egyptian Vulture is tiny (wingspan of 70cm) and has white feathers. Griffon Vulture is the same size as the Lammergyer but has a long neck and a bald head.

Golden Eagle is a more likely candidate since its the same size and shape as the Lammergyer

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johnjo719

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#32  Edited By johnjo719

They have this intense stare though in the pictures. I imagine I'd would be unnerving in person.

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It looks like a evil cartoon character

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#34  Edited By cattlebattle

@impurestcheese: Cheer up!! Now!!!! This, I command!

After all, I would hate for you to have to listen to Garth Brooks again.

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ImpurestCheese

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@cattlebattle: Nope not until I've got this week over abd done with

@cgoodness: Yeah it's that little mustache thing

@johnjo719: From what I've heard they make very loyal affectionate pets

Thomas Powys wrote this about his pair;

These birds of mine were very tame and perfectly harmless; indeed, with the exception of a few playful attacks on trousers, gaiters, petticoats and boots, I never heard of any malice on their part towards any living creature. Their natural food consists of carrion and garbage of all sorts, tortoises, and other small reptiles; and I hold the many stories that are current on the Continent, of their carrying off children, lambs and kids, as very nearly, if not entirely mythical.

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ImpurestCheese

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@johnjo719: Ah it's a raptor (Bird of Prey) so intense staring is something that comes naturally to it

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#38  Edited By johnjo719

Yes, I wish sometimes I could stare like that

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ImpurestCheese

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#39  Edited By ImpurestCheese
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#40  Edited By XLR87T3

Look at that little beauty!

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ImpurestCheese

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#41  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@xlr87t3: Thank you...oh wait your talking about the bird LOL

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Samimista

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#42  Edited By Samimista

I actually like their appearance. ^__^

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ImpurestCheese

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@samimista: Yeah there seems to be a 50:50 split on whether it's hideous or amazing. Thanks for the comment

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#44  Edited By Samimista

@impurestcheese: Their eyes are very captivating.

Anytime. :) What's your favorite bird?

There's actually grey cranes who walk around my area. Very beautiful.

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ImpurestCheese

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#45  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@samimista: Ah my favourite is the bird that's currently my avatar...

Geococyx californianses or the Greater Roadrunner
Geococyx californianses or the Greater Roadrunner

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@impurestcheese: Absolutely majestic. O__O I really do love animals.

I've actually played with a baby Siberian tiger about two years ago. :) Can send you pictures if you'd like to see. ^__^

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ImpurestCheese

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@samimista: Yeah who doesn't. On Monday when I posted this I met the newest cat my friend is looking after Ifan the Caracal. We got stuck up a tree together LOL. And pictures only if you want to.

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This is why I stay in America.

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ImpurestCheese

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#49  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@darthaznable: What because of scary vultures? Or a grown woman and a wild cat (both of whom are usually good climbers) getting stuck up a tree?

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