• McKinley Valentine

The bearded vulture’s diet is bones, just bones

Updated: Oct 1


Genuinely, they just eat bones.


If the bone is too big, they fly around 100 metres up and drop it onto rocks, cracking it into manageable pieces. (Their other names are ‘lammergeier’, meaning lamb-vulture, or ‘ossifrage’, bone-breaker.)


They’re also HUGE, with a wingspan of nearly 3 metres. When they can’t get bones, they surprise ibex and goats on cliff-edges and batter them till they fall off. Then eat them AND their bones.


Incidentally, their necks aren’t actually orange. They’re white. But they find patches of iron oxide-rich dust to groom into their feathers. This doesn’t have any direct benefits, but it tells other bearded vultures you have the time and resources to spare to find a real good patch of iron-oxide dust to groom with, so people find it very impressive.


Lastly, please enjoy this commentary by Thomas Littleton Powys, the 4th Baron Lilford:

We have two fine bearded vultures, or lammergeiers, one of which (with a companion that has died very lately) enjoyed complete liberty since its arrival here as a nestling till a few days ago, when I was obliged to have it caught up and confined, on account of very conspicuous breaches of decency about the roof of the house and our flower garden.

For more animals with creepy habits, subscribe to my fortnightly newsletter, The Whippet.



Writing prompt

Well, bones suggest murder - imagine a human femur being dropped on you out of the sky as you're walking in the desert.


Melbourne, Australia

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