The bearded vulture is a large bird found in mountainous areas of southern Europe, Africa, and Tibet. It is known in some areas as the lammergeier or ossifrage. However, it is also known for the fact that it deliberately uses mineral-rich dust and mud to dye its feathers red for reasons still unknown.
Our interest in this bird is centered around its diet. This bird eats bones. When it finds a dead animal, the bearded vulture will drag out a large bone and carry it several hundred feet in the air and drop it on some rocks, smashing the bone into smaller pieces. The bird will then pick up the pieces, one at a time, and swallow them. The bearded vulture apparently has the strongest stomach acid in the animal kingdom. The bones they digest supply all the minerals and vitamins the bird needs to survive.
A program called “Snow Wolf” on the BBC included a section on bearded vultures because they follow wolves in the mountains. When the wolves make a kill, the bearded vulture will wait until the wolves have eaten all of the meat. Then they will start picking up the remaining bones to eat them.
The BBC broadcasts various programs on the unique living things that exist on planet Earth. While the BBC is not sympathetic to any kind of religious concept, many of the stories they present show evidence of design in the creation. One fact about the world in which we live is that in the natural world, nothing goes to waste. Even hard materials like bones are disposed of in some way. The bearded vulture provides one way bones are recycled. We need to learn how to return human-created waste materials to the environment from which they came without polluting it. Ultimately our survival will depend on doing that.
John N. Clayton © 2021
You can see a short BBC video showing bearded vultures at work HERE.