Nature Notes: Bone appetit: The Lammergeier | Local News

What is a wonderful meal to you? Pizza? A salad? Tacos? Although all those might audio very good to a human becoming, the Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus) has a hankering for something a minor crunchier.

The Lammergeier, also regarded as the bearded vulture, is a peculiar bird. When most birds try to eat seeds, fruit, insects, or meat, the Lammergeier prefers to consume bones. It goes with out expressing that having bones is… unusual. There are other birds, like vultures, that will take in animals that have been useless for a while. But the vultures we know, like the turkey vulture and black vulture, take in the flesh from a lifeless animal, leaving guiding the bones. The Lammergeier is not deterred by all those leftovers.

These birds reside higher up in the mountains of central Asia and eastern Africa, even spanning as considerably as Spain and parts of South Africa. They can be located nesting on cliff edges, with just one or two eggs in their clutch.

The Lammergeier is a gorgeous fowl with black and white stripes on its head, noticed white chest, and bristles on the chin that have a beard-like physical appearance.

One more distinguishing issue is its dimension. It’s substantial for a fowl, standing a minimal around 3 ft tall with a wingspan of just about 10 ft.

So, how does this mammoth bird eat its prey? The Lammergeier will discover a carcass and go straight for the bones. They’ll just take items that are also big to swallow and fall them from heights of 80 ft or more, shattering them into more compact parts. If the bone doesn’t split on the 1st fall, then the Lammergeier will test yet again until finally it does.

They have been recognised to return to the similar place over and above again as soon as they determine out a very good spot for bone-breaking. These exclusive places are referred to as ossuaries.

After the bone has been broken into a compact adequate piece, the bird will swallow it in just one massive gulp. The bone will vacation down to the bird’s esophagus and inevitably stop up in an spot termed the proventriculus, where by highly effective digestive enzymes and stomach acid will start the digestion system. With the solid acids at do the job, it only can take about 24 several hours for most of the food stuff to be digested.

Though bones represent the majority of the Lammergeier’s diet plan, it can also eat smaller lizards and even turtles.

When I heard about these birds, the 1st problem that arrived to thoughts is: why bones? That dilemma is still in the process of currently being answered as additional researchers analyze this species. But using fundamental logic, we can infer a several motives why these birds seek out skeletons.

For a single factor, feeding on principally bones implies that there is very small competition for food.

For one more detail, bone marrow is very nutritious for these animals, staying higher in calories and body fat. That suggests that the birds may need to have to take in less frequently to sustain themselves.

All over again, due to the fact this is an region of minor review, there is much nevertheless not known about these birds. For now, this amazing bone-feeding on mountain hen remains rather of an intriguing mystery.

Adam Trujillo is an Education Intern at the Gulf Coast Fowl Observatory, a non-income corporation focused to conserving the birds and their habitats together the complete Gulf Coastline and over and above into their Central and South The us wintering grounds.