1199 Gypaetus barbatus.
The Bearded Vulture or Lammergeyer.
Vultur barbatus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 123 (1766). Gypaetus barbatus, Storr, Alpenreise, p. 69; Hutton, J. A. S. B. iii, p. 522; Hodgson, J. A. S. B. iv, p. 454; Blyth, Cat. p. 33; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 9; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 13; id. Ibis, 1871, p. 230; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 12; Hums, Rough Notes, p. 35; Delme Radclife, Ibis, 1871, p. 363 ; Blanford, J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 41 ; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 170 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 12; id. S. F. i, p. 151; id. Cat. no. 7 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 228 ; Ball, S. F. iii, p. 205 ; Dresser, Ibis, 1875 p. 99 ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 221; Barnes, S. F. ix, pp. 214, 451; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 39; Scully, ibid. p. 416; Barnes, Birds Bom p. 8; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 150; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 127 ; Sharpe, Yarkand Miss., Aves, p. 6. Gypaetus hemachalanus, Hutton, J. A. S. B. vii, p. 22 (1838).
Argul, H., Mussooree; Okhab, Chamba.
Coloration. Adult. Bristles on lores, cere, and chin, supercilia more or less united across the occiput, and narrow stripe below ear-coverts black; remainder of head all round and throat white, speckled with black, more in younger, less in older birds; nape, neck all round, and lower parts white, tinged to a varying extent with ferruginous, and, except in very old birds, with an imperfect blackish-brown gorget, the feathers pale-shafted; upper back and smaller wing-coverts black with narrow white shaft-stripes, that are broader at the tip ; rest of upper plumage deep silvery grey, the shafts white and the edges of the feathers blackish, the black edges disappearing in old birds on the quills and tail; some brown feathers on the lower back and rump; under wing-coverts blackish with white shaft-stripes, which are very broad on the axillaries.
The above is the fully adult plumage, but most birds have brown and whitish patches on the upper parts and blackish marks on the neck and breast. Young birds of the year have the head and neck black, the upper parts blackish brown, lower parts brownish grey; usually there is some white on the back and often on the base of the tail.
Bill horny, the tip darker; irides pale orange, the sclerotic membrane blood-red ; feet plumbeous grey. Irides in the young pale yellowish brown.
Length about 4 feet; tail 22 inches; wing 32; tarsus 4; bill from gape to point 4 (all these are average measurements, and there is much variation).
Distribution. Mountainous parts of Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Western and Central Asia. This bird is common in Persia and Afghanistan, in the Khirthar range of Sind, the Suliman and Salt ranges of the Punjab, and throughout the Himalayas, as far east as Sikhim at all events, but not in forest.
Habits, &c. The Bearded Vulture keeps to rocky hills and mountains, and is usually seen beating regularly over precipices and slopes with a steady sailing flight very like that of a Vulture. It occasionally soars also, and may be recognized at a great elevation by its pointed wings and long wedge-shaped tail. The stories, chiefly Alpine, of its carrying off lambs (whence its name of " Lammergeyer" or Lamb Vulture) and even children, and pushing goats and other animals over precipices, are now generally discredited. It is somewhat doubtful whether this great bird ever attacks living prey, its food consisting chiefly of bones and offal. It but rarely descends on a carcase; but Hume found one feeding on human ordure, like Neophron, to which it has a great resemblance in its gait when walking, and in its appearance on the wing. The Bearded Eagle has been known from antiquity for its habit of carrying up large bones and letting them fall from a height in order to break them, and it is said in the Levant to treat tortoises in the same manner; hence is supposed to have arisen the story of the death of Aeschylus. This bird breeds on rocky-precipices in the Himalayas and elsewhere from November to March, and lays generally two eggs, varying much in markings, but often richly coloured, and measuring about 3.24 by 2.66. The nest is a great pile of sticks, mixed with wool or hair or frequently old rags.