Sight and prey of the Griffon Vulture

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The Griffon Vulture has wonderful powers of sight.  It possesses a vision of no ordinary capacity, which is able to assume either a telescopic or a microscopic character, by means of a complex and marvellous structure, which can alter the whole shape of the eye at the will of the bird.  Not only can this organ be thus altered, but it changes instantaneously, so as to accommodate itself to the task which it is to perform. A Vulture, for example, sees from a vast height the body of a dead animal, and instantly swoops down upon it like an arrow from a bow.
In order to enable the bird to see so distant an object, the eye has been exercising its telescopic powers, and yet, in a second or two, when the Vulture is close to its prey, the whole form of the eye must be changed, or the bird would mistake its distance and dash itself to pieces on the ground.

By means of its powerful eyes the Vulture can see to an enormous distance, and with great clearness, but neither so far nor so clearly as is sometimes supposed.  It is true that, as soon as a carcase is discovered, it will be covered with Vultures, who arrive from every side, looking at first like tiny specks in the air, scarcely perceptible even to practised eyes, and all directing their flight to the same point. 'Where the carcase is, there will the vultures be gathered together.' But, although they all fly towards the same spot, it does not follow that they have all seen the same object. The fact is they see and understand each other's movements.

A single Vulture, for example, sees a dead or dying sheep, and swoops down upon it. The other Vultures which are flying about in search of food, and from which the animal in question may be concealed, know perfectly well that a Vulture soars high in the air when searching for food, and only darts to the earth when it has found a suitable prey. They immediately follow its example, and in their turn are followed by other Vultures, which can see their fellows from a distance, and know perfectly well why they are all converging to one spot.

In this way, all the Vultures of a neighbourhood will understand, by a very intelligible telegraph, that a dead body or some animal has been found, and, aided by their wonderful powers of flight, will assemble over its body in an almost incredibly short space of time.
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