The Vulture


The vulture is called a bird of prey, because it lives on flesh; but it
has not such strong claws as the eagle, to seize and tear its food. It
does not often kill other animals; but preys upon those that have been
killed in some other way, or have died of themselves. It is a
disagreeable bird, and one that you would not like very well to see; no
wonder the Israelites were forbidden to eat it. It is about a yard long
from the top of its head, and it sometimes measures two yards across the

It lives only in warm or hot climates, and there it is very useful,
though you might at first be puzzled to think how this can be. It is
because it lives upon such things as would be very injurious to man if
they were left to decay in the open air. It not only consumes the dead
bodies of animals, but takes away many things from the streets of the
cities which the inhabitants are too indolent to remove. It is for this
reason that in the city of Cairo, in Egypt, there is a law forbidding
any person to kill a vulture. These birds sometimes follow an army, and
prey upon the bodies of those poor soldiers who have been killed in
battle. Ah ! it is a sad thing to go to war; almost every thing about
it is sad.

The vulture has a very keen eye, and, like the eagle, can see what is on
the ground, even when it is very high in the air. This is referred to
in the book of Job. "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which
the vulture's eye hath not seen." It often happens in those countries
that almost as soon as an ox, or a horse, or any other large animal has
been killed, great multitudes of vultures will gather around, though not
one could be seen in the sky before. they seem to fly down from every
part of the heavens, and being to pull and struggle for the flesh of the
animal; until in the course of a few hours nothing is left but the
bones. We read in Isaiah, "There shall the vultures be gathered, every
one with her mate." This must have been written by one who had seen
these birds coming together, as they do in great flocks or companies.

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