Birds of the Bible – Ossifrage

Lammergeier

This week’s bird is only mentioned twice in the Bible and is in the list of “unclean birds.” Mainly the King James Version (KJV DBY WBS YLT) mentions it, most other versions call it a bearded vulture, vulture, or a variety of other birds. What is an Ossifrage anyway. Here is what I found out.

And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey, (Leviticus 11:13 KJV)

But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey, (Deuteronomy 14:12 KJV)

Here is what Nave’s Topical Bible has to say about a Vulture:
  • A carnivorous bird Lev_11:14; Deu_14:13
  • Sometimes translated Falcon Job_28:7
  • Sometimes translated Kite Isa_34:15
From the Holman Bible Dictionary (Online) – OSSIFRAGE
“(ahss ssi frayge) English applies ossifrage to three birds: the bearded vulture; the osprey; and the giant petrel. Other translations identify the bird as a black vulture (REB) or vulture (NAS, NIV, NRSV).
Compact Oxford English Dictionary (New Edition) calls it a
1. lammergeier. or 2. Archaic An osprey.”

From Wikipedia

“Unlike most vultures, the Lammergeier does not have a bald head. This huge bird is 95-125 cm (37-49 inches) long with a 235-280 cm (91-110 inches) wingspan, and is quite unlike most other vultures in flight due to its large, narrow wings and long, wedge-shaped tail. It weighs between 5 and 7 kg (11 and 15 lbs).”

“The Bearded vulture is the only animal that feeds almost exclusively on bone (70-90%). In Crete, the shepherds call it the “Bone-eater”, as they have watched the bird breaking bones in a very characteristic way, since the old times.

The bird throws the larger bones from a height on to rocky slopes in order to break them, and immediately descends after them in a characteristic spiral way. If the bone does not break the first time, the method is repeated many times until the bone finally breaks.
The bird then eats the bone pieces starting with the bone marrow. The smaller bones are swallowed whole, as the birds gastric fluids are so strong that they can digest bone easily.
This dietary habit seems odd, but once bones have been digested, they are a nutritious and easily storable type of food; in addition, the bird faces minimal competition for this type of food.“ The full article can be found at: Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)
Ossifrage - Lammergier

Ossifrage – Lammergier

Pictures are of Bartgeier and a Lammergeier by Anthony S

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