Trivia question for Jun-23-2011

Posted on Jun 23, 2011 in Trivia

Carter was fascinated by the sheer size of these birds so he decided to make them his trivia for today.  These are one of the world’s largest birds of prey, they sport a bold plumage and an impressive ‘mustache’.

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. It usually disdains the rotting meat, however, and lives on a diet that is 90% bone marrow. They can swallow whole bones up to the size of a lamb’s femur and its powerful digestive system quickly dissolves even large pieces. They have learned to crack bones too large to be swallowed by carrying them up to a height and then dropping them onto rocks below, smashing them into smaller pieces and exposing the nutritious marrow. This learned skill requires extensive practice by immature birds and takes up to seven years to master.

The adult has a buff-yellow body and head, the latter with the black mustaches which give this species its alternative name. It may rub mud over its chin, breast and leg feathers, giving these areas a rust-colored appearance. The tail feathers and wings are grey. The juvenile bird is dark all over, and takes five years to reach full maturity. They are silent, apart from shrill whistles at the breeding crags, and can live up to 40 years in captivity.

So here are Carter’s questions:  Tell us what this bird is and where they can be found?  Also, these birds are extremely smart, so much so that they have developed a macabre routine that can be seen as they visit rural settlements.  Tell us what this strange behavior is?

Good Luck 😉


Congratulations to Laura Daniel from Fosston, Minnesota for being the first to identify this huge bird. The bird we featured is the Lammergeier. The Lammergeier, Lammergeyer, or Bearded Vulture, (“Bearded Vulture-Eagle”), is the only member of the genus Gypaetus. It eats mainly carrion and lives and breeds on crags in high mountains in southern Europe, North Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, and Tibet, laying one or two eggs in mid-winter which hatch at the beginning of spring.

The name of the Lammergeier originates from German Lämmergeier, which means “lamb-vulture” or “lamb-hawk”. The name stems from the belief that it attacked lambs.  As for their strange and macabre habits, no one was able to guess what that was.  We did learn from Sandra Sallee of Cairo, Georgia that these birds usually lay two eggs but only one chick survives because the stronger chick usually (gulp) eats its sibling!  Wow!!!  The strange behavior we uncovered is that in parts of Asia, the Lammergeier makes regular stops to rural settlements precisely on their ritual slaughter days, hoping to snatch scraps from freshly butchered carcasses.  They have learned the frequency of these rituals and like clock-work, show up for their share.  Scary…  Anyway, we learned about this fact from our friends at Wildlife Explorer.  Here is more on these smart birds: Lammergeier

Thanks for playing along 😉