The bearded vulture’s diet is bones, just bones

ufxdytaYou’ll notice they don’t have bald heads, the way other vultures do. That’s because they’re not sticking their heads into messy carcasses; they wait till they’re picked clean. They can swallow whole or bite through bones up to the size of a lamb’s femur, where their hyperacidic stomach dissolves the bones and lets them digest the marrow. (Wikipedia page)

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.

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