One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large Old World vulture of mountainous country, with a wingspan of 3 m (10 ft) and a tuft of dark feathers under the beak, noted for its habit of dropping bones from a height to break them.
Gypaetus barbatus, family AccipitridaeAlso called bearded vulture
- ‘News of the vulture poisonings has coincided with the release of an alarming report on a suspected decline in numbers of South Africa's rare bearded vulture, also known as lammergeyer.’
- ‘The reserve is home to not only goats, red deer, and boars but also brown bears, chamois, lynx, roe deer, and wolves, as well as numerous eagles and large vultures called lammergeiers.’
- ‘Nest sites on high ledges, identified by white guano streaks on the cliff face, are home to lammergeiers that survive by picking on carcasses left by wolves or the harsh winters.’
- ‘Legend has it that the lammergeier will sometimes dive at animals, even humans, trying to scare them into falling off the escarpment.’
- ‘The most sinister bird is the giant, vulture-like lammergeier that drools upon the banks.’
Early 19th century: from German Lämmergeier, from Lämmer (plural of Lamm ‘lamb’) + Geier ‘vulture’.
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