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this to be the case with Vultures generally, even with those which, like the present, assemble in multitudes where the banquet invites them. The same acute observer also adds that he “ could never see it feeding upon that which was not putrid,” and that often when he had “ thrown aside the useless remains of birds and quadrupeds after dissection, though the Vultur aura would be soaring up and down all day long, still would never descen to feed upon them, or to carry them off, till they were in a state of putrefaction.” With live poultry and other domestic animals the Turkey-vulture lives upon amicable terms, without committing any hostilities ; all he wants is his meal of carrion, and that there is little lack of in the regions he inhabits. The author above alluded to says, “ When I carried Lord Collingwood's dispatches up the Oronoco, to the city of Angustura, I there saw the common Vultures of Guiana nearly as tame as turkeys; the Spaniards protected them, and considered them in the light of useful scavengers.

... They were flying about the city in all directions." The flight of this species is peculiarly graceful and easy; its length of wing gives it the greatest facility, and it sweeps along, in alternate rises and falls, on motionless pinions.

The general colour of the plumage of the Turkeyvulture is a glossy brownish black, with green reflexions. In length it measures two feet four or five inches, and its stretch of wing is little less than six feet.

It is time, however, to pass from the present family, leaving numbers of no little interest without notice; we might bring forward the Sociable Vulture of Africa,

Vultur auricularis, DAUD.) the Californian (V. Californianus), the Pondicherry (V. Pondicerianus), and many others, well worthy of attention. All, however, agree in habits and disposition, and, with the exception of those points which more particularly engage the professed naturalist, one description more or less applies to the whole. Still we are not about to leave the Vultures abruptly; in nature one group ever passes insensibly, by a series of gradations or intervening forms, into that which follows, and we shall take nature as our guide. If this opinion, then, be correct, there must be a point at which the drawing of the artificial line of separation is a matter of doubt or indifference.

The next family is that of the Hawks, Falcons, Eagles, &c. (Falconide), birds of fierce, rapacious habits; these disdain the putrid carcass, they abhor the loathsome repast; the food they eat is the quarry they have slain, and they devour the flesh while yet warm and quivering with life. Their powers and disposition are commensurate with each other; their beak is stout and strongly hooked, their talons are sharp and large, and their deportment is bold and free. Now between these two families, thus characterized, the interval is filled up by several links, and one of the most conspicuous is the celebrated LAMMERGEYER, or Bearded Vulture. (Gypaëtos barbatus. STORR.) The older writers on ornithology, according to

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the peculiar bias by which their views were modified, placed the Lämmergeyer respectively either among the Eagles or the Vultures, though well aware of its habits and manners. Storr, however, a naturalist of great eminence, rescued it from the indeterminate situations it had hitherto occupied, and established it as the type of a new genus, to which he gave the appropriate name of Gypaëtos, from yvų, a vulture, and aeros, an eagle; thereby alluding to its intermediate situation. The characters of the genus are briefly these :—the head and neck clothed with feathers; the nostrils covered with bristly hairs, which form a sort of pendent tuft or beard; the bill elongated, of moderate strength, and hooked. The tarsi short, and feathered to the toes, which are of considerable strength, and armed with true talons.

The Lämmergeyer emulates the eagle in its daring and rapacious habits ; thinly scattered throughout all the great mountain chains of Europe, as well as of Asia and Africa, it is the terror of the flocks which graze on the declivities or among the secluded valleys beneath. Its habitual prey is the chamois, the wild goat, the Alpine hare, the marmot, &c.; the young, the sick, and the feeble of the larger quadrupeds are its marked victims, nor indeed can the old and vigorous always escape. Sailing in the air above the snow-clad summits of the stupendous Alps, it watches till the unwary chamois approaches the edge of a precipice, or traverses the pass of a narrow ledge, and then, sudden and impetuous as the avalanche of its native regions, down it rushes, hurling the helpless animal into the abyss below; when, proudly wheeling round for a few gyrations, as if to contemplate the effects of its sanguinary deed, it plunges down to gorge on the yet quivering flesh. It seldom attempts to carry off its prey (unless of moderate weight) like the eagle, as it does not possess the same strength of talon, but satiates its appetite on the spot : if it have young, it tears the flesh, at least of its larger victims, into fragments, and bears it piecemeal to its eyry. Though the Lämmergeyer prefers to live upon the fruits of its own rapacious prowess, still it does not refuse the putrid carrion, which, as we have seen, constitutes the food of the Vulture; it may, therefore, be often noticed sweeping slowly along the ground towards the expected banquet, where it is joined by its fellows of the surrounding district. Under ordinary circumstances, however, it


does not appear to form congregated bands, but roams for food singly, or in company with its mate alone. It is currently said and believed among the peasantry of the Alps to have carried off children to its nest.

Such a circumstance is barely possible. The following remarkable instance of its boldness and voracity is taken from Bruce's account, who narrates, in his “ Abyssinian Travels,” that “ his servants were preparing for dinner on the summit of a lofty mountain, when a Bearded Vulture, attracted by the smell of the goats' flesh which they were cooking, slowly made his advances towards the party, and at length fairly seated herself within the ring which they had formed. The affrighted natives started up and ran for their lances and shields; and the bird, after an ineffectual attempt to extract a portion of their meal from the boiling water, seized a large piece in each of his talons from a platter that stood by, and carried them off slowly along the ground as he came. After an interval of a few minutes, the Vulture returned for a second freight, but was shot by the traveller before it could carry its

purpose into effect."

This bold and powerful species is the largest of our European birds of prey, measuring upwards of four feet from beak to tail, and nine or ten in the expanse of wings. The Lämmergeyer breeds on the summit of the highest and most inaccessible cliffs, making no nest, but depositing its eggs on the naked rock: they are two in number, of a white colour, blotched with brown. The general colour of the upper parts is a strong grayish br in, the centre of each feather having a white longitudinal line. The neck, breast, and under parts are white, tinged with a wash of reddish brown or orange; the tail is graduated; the tarsi are bluish gray, the iris is orange; the beak four inches in length, and of a grayish flesh colour; the bristles at its base are black, and a black band passes through each eye, and sends off a narrow line of the same colour to meet on the top of the head. The second and third quillfeathers are the longest.

Here we close our sketch of the Vultures, a family of no trifling importance in the economy of nature. The services to which they are appointed may perhaps be revolting to the mind of the over-refined but superficial observer, who is unacquainted with the wise dispensations of Providence, by which a due balance and order in the component parts of the system of nature is ever maintained; he may regard the foul-feeding, indolent Vulture with contempt or abhorrence, not considering that its habits are well and wisely appointed by him, who has ordered all things, who has founded the universe, and whose “ knowledge is past finding out.” How much more revolting to the truly philosophic mind are the habits of men who, with immortal souls at stake, riot in intemperance and gluttony, whose lives are passed in besotted licentiousness, and in the grossest vice, who in this world forfeit honour and good name, cast from them the precepts of morality and the truths of the christian's faith, and die as they lived, in hardness and rebellion against that Saviour who is able and willing to save !

We now commence the second family of the Raptorial Order; it is that containing the most sanguinary birds of prey.


The family designated Falconide, comprehends several subordinate groups, agreeing in general outlines, yet separated from each other by marked and essential characteristics. Taken as a whole, we may call them the lions, tigers, and leopards of the feathered race. They live by slaughter, they carry on a war of ruthless extermination, and surround their lonely nests with the relics of many a bloody feast.

Their port is free and noble, their eyes piercing, their body firm and compact, their flight rapid and impetuous, their beak and talons are hooked, sharp, and formidable. They live alone, or in pairs; some on the cliffs of the seashore, some on the highest mountains, some among the secluded recesses of the woods, and some on wide heaths and moors. All are busy and active in the destruction of life. Some, perched on a rocky height, or on the topmost branches of a tree, mark their prey at a

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