As possibly showing a transition from the Vultures to the Eagles we may briefly mention the so-called Bearded Vulture or Lämmergeier (Gypaetus Barbatus), a magnificent bird of central Europe and the Mediterranean countries, whence it extends to central Asia, the Himalayas, and northern China. It differs markedly from the true Vultures in having the head feathered, but otherwise its structure and habits would seem to ally it more with them than with the Eagles. It would probably be entirely justifiable to create a subfamily for the reception of the genus Gypaetus, as was long ago suggested. It is a large bird, attaining a length of forty-two to forty-six inches, and a spread of wings of some nine or ten feet. The following description of the plumage is from Newton : ” The top of the head is white, bounded by black, which, beginning in stiff bristly feathers turned forward over the base of the beak, proceeds on either side of the face in a well-defined band to the eye, when it bifurcates into two narrow stripes. A tuft of black, bristly feathers projects beard-like from the base of the mandible. The rest of the head, the neck, throat, and lower parts generally are clothed with lanceolate feathers of a pale tawny color sometimes so pale as to be nearly white beneath, while the scapulars, back, and wing-coverts generally are of a glossy grayish black, most of the feathers having a white shaft and a median tawny line. The quill-feathers, both of wings and tail, are of a dark blackish gray.” They breed early in the year, building a nest of large size which is composed of sticks and lined with softer material, placing it on a rocky ledge or a niche in the face of a cliff, usually in an inaccessible position, where they lay but a single egg, which is described as being pale brownish orange in color. There is considerable disagreement among observers regarding the usual food of the Lämmergeier, some claiming that the bulk of it consists of carrion, offal, etc., while others assert that they are able to capture their own prey. Doubtless the truth lies between, for while they undoubtedly eat carrion it is equally true that they not infrequently kill the young of various animals. Two other species of Gypaetus are known from the mountains of Africa.
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