Birds of the Bible – Griffon Vulture

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Nikhil Devasar

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Nikhil Devasar

Of birds these are they which you must not eat, and which are to be avoided by you: The eagle, and the griffon, and the osprey. (Leviticus 11:13 DRB)

The unclean eat not: to wit, the eagle, and the grype, and the osprey, (Deuteronomy 14:12 DRB)

While looking through the list of clean and unclean birds in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 to see if I could find a bird to write about, I found the two verses above in the DRB (1899 Douay-Rheims Bible). It is not a Bible I use other than comparing verses. Most of the other versions call it a vulture, ossifrage, gier-eagle, bearded or black vulture, buzzard and a few other things. The KJV calls it the ossifrage and the NKJV the vulture. What caught my eye was the grype. When I looked it up, the Griffon and the “gyps” genus were tied together. So, here is a little about the Griffon Vulture and the Gyps genus.

The Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) is a large Old World vulture in the bird of prey family Accipitridae.

The Griffon Vulture is 93–110 cm (37–43 in) long with a 2.3–2.8 m (7.5–9.2 ft) wingspan. In the nominate race the males weigh 6.2 to 10.5 kg (14 to 23 lb) and females typically weigh 6.5 to 11.3 kg (14 to 25 lb), while in the Indian subspecies (G. f. fulvescens) the vultures average 7.1 kg (16 lb). Extreme adult weights have been reported from 4.5 to 15 kg (9.9 to 33 lb), the latter likely a weight attained in captivity. Hatched naked, it is a typical Old World vulture in appearance, with a very white head, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff and yellow bill. The buff body and wing coverts contrast with the dark flight feathers.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) Dieren Park Amersfoort -adult and chick WikiC

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) Dieren Park Amersfoort -adult and chick WikiC

Like other vultures, it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals which it finds by soaring over open areas, often moving in flocks. It grunts and hisses at roosts or when feeding on carrion.

The maximum lifespan recorded for the Griffon Vulture is 41.4 years, for a specimen in captivity. It breeds on crags in mountains in southern Europe, north Africa, and Asia, laying one egg. Griffon Vultures may form loose colonies. The population is mostly resident.

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) by Bob-Nan

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) by Bob-Nan

There are 8 species in the Gyps genus. The Griffon being one of them. They are Old World vultures in the bird family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks.

These are the typical vultures, with bald head, broad wings and mainly dark plumage. They are large scavenging birds, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. Old World vultures find carcasses exclusively by sight. Representatives of this group are found throughout warmer parts of the Old World.

The characteristic featherless head is because a feathered head would become spattered with blood and other fluids, and thus be difficult to keep clean.

These are the members of the Gyps genus:

Gyps

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) by Africaddict – Video
White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) by Nikhil Devasar – Video
Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus) by Nikhil – Video
Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) Drawing ©WikiC
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) ©WikiC – Video IBC
____ (Gyps rueppellii rueppellii) IBC
____ (Gyps rueppellii erlangeri)
Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayensis) Imm by Nikhil
Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Nikhil – Video IBC
____ (Gyps fulvus fulvus) IBC
____ (Gyps fulvus fulvescens) OBI
Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) ©WikiC

Vultures are of course mentioned several times throughout Scripture:

There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. (Isaiah 34:15 KJV)

There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: (Job 28:7 KJV)

See other Birds of the Bible Pages:

Birds of the Bible – Vulture

Birds of the Bible

(Various internet sources including Wikipedia)

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2 thoughts on “Birds of the Bible – Griffon Vulture

  1. I was told the usual translation “eagles wings” in Exodus 19 when God spoke to Moses, the birds in question are not “eagles”, but are vultures. specifically griffon vultures. this is in contrast from the majestic bald eagle of American iconography featured on momument of the 10 commandment. What do you think?

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    • Interesting thought, so I brought up my e-Sword program and checked Exodus 19:4. I put it in Parallel mode which compares all my loaded versions, over 20, and they all use “eagles.” Even the Hebrew “nesher” indicates eagle. No, it is most likely not our Bald Eagle, but one of the many eagles around the Israel area.

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