Lee’s Two Word Tuesday – 10/4/16


(Ossifrage or Lammergeier) ©WikiC



“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)

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) (Ossifrage or Lammergeier) ©Wiki


More Daily Devotionals

Birds of the Bible – Ossifrage



Ian’s Bird of the Week – Lammergeier (Missió Complerta!)

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Newsletter ~ 11/7/14

Now, at last, here is the one that I wanted to photograph above all else when in the Pyrenees: the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture.

As with other species that have featured in the bird of the week such as the Black Woodpecker and Cream-coloured Courser, my interest or perhaps obsession was stimulated by my Petersen et al. Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe in the early 1960s. Unlike the woodpecker and the coursers, the European vultures were represented not on the coloured plates but in monochrome drawings. If anything, that made them more mysterious and elusive though two of them came spectacularly to life in 1963 when I saw Griffon and Egyptian Vultures during a family holiday in the Pyrenees. The Lammergeier, the mythical bone-breaker seemed destined to remain just that, as I knew it was very rare in Europe, extinct in the Alps, and found only over the highest mountain ranges. Even the name seemed straight out of Wagner’s Ring Cycle along with the Valkyries.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

I had been warned by the reserve rangers that the Lammergeiers would appear, if at all, in the afternoon after the Griffons had had their fill and I also knew that they were shy, would initially cruise over the area without landing and could easily be put off by the movement of a large telephoto lens. So the suspense was great, and it was a thrill when the first immature bird landed some distance away just before midday. They kept on the fringes and it wasn’t until about 2:30pm they came close enough for decent photos. The bird in the second and third photo is an older immature bird – they take six or seven years to mature – and the feathers of the breast and legs are getting paler. It also has the red eye-ring of the adult.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

In flight, fourth photo, they look quite different to other vultures with their back-swept rather pointed wings and long paddle-shaped tail. The thick plumage on the crown and neck sets them apart from typical vultures too, and when perched they hold their bodies in a horizontal eagle-like stance, presumably to keep their tails off the ground.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Their shape plus the whitish head of the adult is quite distinctive so it was an exciting moment when I saw the first one soaring in the distance over the mountain range that overlooked the feeding station. Much later, they started checking out the feeding area without landing. I was too wary of alerting them by movement so I took the fourth photo of an adult in flight much later.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Eventually, just before 3pm, the first adult landed, though like the juveniles, the adults stayed on the fringes as well and it wasn’t until 4:30pm that they came closer pick over the remains of the food carcasses and the real photography began.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

The black bird on the left of the fifth photo is a Common Raven and it seems to be imitating the stance of the larger bird and saying ‘I’m a champion too’. It’s much closer to the camera which makes it look larger than it actually is. Thirteen seconds later the Lammergeier took flight right over the Raven’s head – it had to duck – as if to say ‘we’ll see who’s boss’, and the relative proportions are more obvious. The wing-span – to 280cm/110in – is similar to that of Griffon and Cinereous Vultures, but the tail makes it much longer – to 125cm/49in. Females are heavier than males, to 7kg/15lb, but both sexes are lighter than the other vultures.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

The Lammergeiers wait until the others have finished because their food of choice is bones and bone marrow. In fact these make up 85% of the diet making them unique among birds and probably also vertebrates. The one in the sixth photo has found the favourite morsel, the digits of a cloven-hoof herbivore such as sheep and goats. Smaller bones ones are swallowed whole, larger ones – up to 4kg in weight – are dropped onto regularly used rocky areas called ossuaries to smash the bones. The usual pattern of the birds here was to scout around for suitable food, carry it off and then return perhaps 20 minutes later. They’re called ‘quebrando huesos’ (breaking bones) in Spanish. They’ll also take live prey such as tortoises, which get the same treatment. Legend has it that the Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed around 456 BC by an eagle – clearly a Lammergeier – dropping a tortoise on his bald head, mistaking it for a rock.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Conservation efforts have seen the Pyrenean population grow from 75 pairs in 1993 to 125 pairs in 2008 and the species has been successfully re-introduced to the Alps. It also occurs in eastern Africa, South Africa and Central Asia. Estimates of the global population range from 2000 to 10,000 individuals. Until recently, it was not considered globally threatened until recent declines outside Europe and it is now classified as near threatened. The greatest concern is the veterinary use of the anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drug Diclosfenac. Highly toxic to vultures, causing liver failure, it has been solely responsible for the 99% decline in vulture populations in India, where it is now banned.

Horrifyingly, this drug has recently been approved for veterinary use in Spain and Italy. This insanity jeopardises the wonderful conservation efforts being carried out. BirdLife International has rallied to the cause, see http://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/vultures-africa-and-europe-could-face-extinction-within-our-lifetime-warn, and funds are being raised here https://www.justgiving.com/stop-vulture-poisoning-now/.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

I’m going to donate. If we think that because there are no vultures in Australia, it’s someone else’s problem, it’s not unfortunately quite so simple. There is recent evidence that Diclosfenac is toxic to Aquila eagles too. That includes the Wedge-tailed Eagle and this drug is approved for veterinary use here (e.g. ‘Voltaren’ for horses) and widely prescribed for human use. Studies have shown that it increases the risk of strokes in humans http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-09-14/study-links-voltaren-to-strokes/2260424. Photographing Lammergeiers is a personal missió complerta (Catalan for misión completa). A much more important mission accomplished will be the global banning of this completely unnecessary and dangerous drug – there are safe alternatives.


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

“But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, (Deu 14:12 NKJV)
“And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; (Lev 11:14 KJV)

Wow! What great photos of the Bearded Vulture/a.k.a. Lammergeier. Ian uses the one name, but I.O.C. uses the Bearded names. What ever you call it, it is a neat looking bird, especially being a vulture.

This bird is one of the Birds of the Bible and we have written about them before, but Ian’s photos, will help visualize it it even more.

“The Lammergeier, the mythical bone-breaker” listed by Ian reminded me of this article: Birds of the Bible – Name Study ~ Ossifrage that uses the term “bone-breaker”



Birds of the Bible – Name Study ~ Ossifrage

Black Vulture by Birdway (Ian)

Black Vulture by Birdway (Ian)

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 ospray, (Leviticus 11:13 KJV)

We have looked into this bird before in Birds of the Bible – Ossifrage and the Birds of the Bible Ossifrage Page. Since we have been looking at the actual meanings of the names in the Name Studies, maybe we can discover something else of interest. I hope this long list below of the different translations that are shown are a blessing and not a curse. They were cut down to just show the three birds, except for the translations that like to put all the verses in one verse. (from my e-Sword)

Scanning down through the list the Eagle seems to be no real problem. Most translate it as an Eagle. The last bird, most show as the Osprey or Sea-eagle. Wikipedia says, “The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle or fish hawk,” A few make this last bird one of the vultures. The middle bird is our concentration in this article.

Ossifrage - Lammergier

Ossifrage – Lammergier

Looking down this list you will find these birds:

  • Vulture
  • Ossifrage
  • Gier-eagle
  • Goshauke or Goshawk
  • Griffon
  • Bearded Vulture
  • Black Vulture
  • Latin – grypem or gryphem = griffon
  • Spanish – el buitre – (from translator)

(Ornitología) vulture
buitre alimoche Egyptian vulture
buitre leonado griffon vulture

  • or quebrantahuesos – “In 1960, the Mexican ornithologist Rafael Martín del Campo identified the eagle in the pre-Hispanic codex as the Northern Caracara or “quebrantahuesos“, a species common in Mexico (although the name “eagle” is taxonomically incorrect, as the Caracara is in the falcon family). The golden eagle is considered the official bird of Mexico.
Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) ©WikiC

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) ©WikiC

What is the Hebrew word for this bird?

From H6536; a claw; also a kind of eagle: – claw, ossifrage.

Many of the online Bible Commentaries and Dictionaries use “bone-breaker” and lean toward Lammergeir. See: Bible Encyclopedia, Net Bible, OED, Bible Suite,and Bible Study Tools.


  • (ACV) : the eagle, and the vulture, and the osprey,
  • (AKJV) …: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
  • (AMP) …: the eagle, the ossifrage, the ospray,
  • (ASV) …: the eagle, and the gier-eagle, and the ospray,
  • (BBE) …: the eagle and the gier-eagle and the ospray;
  • (Bishops) …: The Egle, the Goshauke, and the Ospray,
  • (Brenton) …: the eagle and the ossifrage, and the sea-eagle.
  • (CEV) Eagles, vultures, buzzards, crows, ostriches, hawks, sea gulls, owls, pelicans, storks, herons, hoopoes, and bats are also disgusting, and you are forbidden to eat any of them.
  • (CJB) …: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey,
  • (Darby) …: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the sea-eagle,
  • (DRB) …: The eagle, and the griffon, and the osprey.
  • (ERV) …: eagles, vultures, buzzards,
  • (ESV)..: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
  • (ECB)…: the eagle and the ossifrage and the ospray
  • (Geneva) … the egle, and the goshauke, and the osprey:
  • (GNB) You must not eat any of the following birds: eagles, owls, hawks, falcons; buzzards, vultures, crows; ostriches; seagulls, storks, herons, pelicans, cormorants; hoopoes; or bats.
  • (GW) …. They are eagles, bearded vultures, black vultures,
  • (HCSB) …: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
  • (HRB) …: the eagle, and the black vulture and the bearded vulture,
  • (IAV) …: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
  • (ISV) …: the eagle, vulture, osprey,
  • (LITV-TSP) …: the eagle, and the black vulture and the bearded vulture,
  • (JPS) …: the great vulture, and the bearded vulture, and the ospray;
  • (KJ2000) …: the eagle, and the vulture, and the osprey,
  • (KJV) …: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
  • (KJV-1611) …: The Eagle, and the Ossifrage, and the Ospray,
  • (LITV) …: the eagle, and the black vulture and the bearded vulture,
  • (MKJV) …: the eagle, and the black vulture, and the bearded vulture,
  • (MSG) …: eagle, vulture, osprey,
  • (NAS77) …: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard,
  • (NASB) ‘…: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard,
  • (NET) … the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
  • (NIrV) …”‘They include eagles, vultures and black vultures.
  • (NIV) …: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture,
  • (NKJV)…: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard,
  • (NRSV) …: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey,
  • (RV) …: the eagle, and the gier eagle, and the ospray;
  • (The Disciple’s Bible) …: the eagle, and the gier-eagle, and the ospray,
  • (TRC) …The eagle, the goshawk, the cormorant, the kite,
  • (Tyndale) … The egle, the gooshauke, the cormoraunte, the kyte,
  • (UKJV) …: the eagle, and the vulture, and the buzzard,
  • (Webster) …: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
  • (WEB (R)) …: the eagle, and the vulture, and the black vulture,
  • (YLT) …: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,


  • (Vulgate) … aquilam et grypem et alietum
  • (clVulgate) …: aquilam, et gryphem, et haliæetum,


  • (LBLA) …: el águila, el buitre y el buitre negro,
  • (NBLH)…: el águila, el buitre y el buitre negro,
  • (SRV) …: el águila, el quebrantahuesos, el esmerejón,

Hebrew or Greek #s (with some editing)

  • (KJV+) …: the eagle,H5404 and the ossifrage,H6538 and the ospray,H5822
  • (NASB+) …: the eagle H5404 and the vulture H6538 and the buzzard H5822,
  • (Translit+) … . nesher H5404 . . perec H6538 . . ‘ozniyah H5822
  • (ABP+) … the G3588 eagle, G105 and the griffin,G1127.3 and the osprey,G230.1
  • (HSB) וְאֶת…; like אֶת־ H853 ‘et- הַנֶּ֙שֶׁר֙ H5404 han·Ne·sher the eagle וְאֶת־ H853 ve·’Et הַפֶּ֔רֶס H6538 hap·Pe·res, and the ossifrage וְאֵ֖ת H853 ve·’Et הָעָזְנִיָּֽה׃ H5822 ha·’a·ze·ni·Yah. and the ospray
  • (HSB2) … the eagle וְאֶת־ H853 הַפֶּ֔רֶס H6538 and the ossifrage וְאֵ֖ת H853 הָעָזְנִיָּֽה׃ H5822 and the ospray
Ossifrage - Lammergeier

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)

The Bearded Vulture is in the Gypaetus genus, which is similar to the Vulgate term for it. There are many Old World Vultures in the Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles family and most likely it is one of them. A black or bearded one. The Black Vulture above is a New World Vulture and is in the Cathartidae – New World Vultures Family. That “black vulture” is not likely to be the one in this Scriputure.

The Bearded Vulture, like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly on animal matter from dead animals. It usually disdains the actual meat, however, and lives on a diet that is typically compromised at 85-90% by bone marrow. This is the only living bird species that specializes in feeding on marrow. The Lammergeier can swallow whole or bite through brittle bones up to the size of a lamb’s femur and its powerful digestive system quickly dissolves even large pieces. The Lammergeier has learned to crack bones too large to be swallowed by carrying them in flight to a height of 50–150 m (160–490 ft) above the ground and then dropping them onto rocks below, which smashes them into smaller pieces and exposes the nutritious marrow. They can fly with bones up to 10 cm (3.9 in) in diameter and weighing over 4 kg (8.8 lb), or nearly equal to their own weight. After dropping the large bones, the Bearded Vulture spirals or glides to down to inspect them and may repeat the act if the bone is not sufficiently cracked. This learned skill requires extensive practice by immature birds and takes up to seven years to master. Its old name of Ossifrage (“bone breaker”) relates to this habit. More seldom, these birds have been observed to try to break bones (usually of a medium size) by hammering them with their bill directly into rocks while perched. (from Wikipedia with editing)

Sounds like a “bone-breaker” and also look at its claws. As I said in the other article “Only God knows which bird was really indicated.” Whichever one it is, they are Birds of Prey and being on the “do not eat” list, they definitely would not end up on my table even though that law was for then. Praise the Lord that the Law was fulfilled through the sinless crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  (Matthew 5:17-18 KJV)

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44 KJV)

Gospel Presentation

Birds of the Bible – Ossifrage


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