How the Lammergier attacks lambs and other animals

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The instinct of killing its prey by a fall is used by the Lammergeier against other animals besides snakes and tortoises, though exerted in a somewhat different manner.
Living among mountain ranges, the bird, may be seen floating about them for hours together, watching each inch of ground in search of prey. If it sees a goat or other inhabitant of the rocks standing near a precipice, the Lammergeier sweeps rapidly upon it, and with a blow of its wing can knock the animal off the rock into the valley beneath, where it may lie helplessly maimed, if not killed by the fall.

Even hares and lambs are killed in this manner, and it is from the havoc which the Lammergeier.makes among sheep that it has obtained the name of Lammergeier, or Lamb-Vulture. So swift and noiseless is the rush of the bird, that an animal which has once been marked by its blood-red eye seldom escapes from the swoop. Even Alpine hunters have occasionally been put in great jeopardy by sudden attacks, the Lammergeier having mistaken their crouching forms for chamois or mountain sheep, and the bird only having turned aside at the last moment.

The reason for employing so remarkable a mode of attack is to be found in the structure of the feet, which, although belonging to so large and powerful a bird, are comparatively feeble, and are unable, like those of the eagle, to grasp the living animal in a deadly hold, and to drive the sharp talons into its vital organs. They are not well adapted for holding prey, the talons not possessing the hook-like form or the sharp points which characterise those of the eagle. The beak too, is weak when compared with the rest of the body, and could not perform its work were not the object which it tears previously shattered by the fall from a height.
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