Bible Birds – Vulture Introduction

Black Vulture by Lee Myakka SP

Black Vulture by Lee Myakka State Park

“But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,” (Deuteronomy 14:12 NKJV)

  • Christian Standard Bible (CSB) “but these are the ones you may not eat: eagles, bearded vultures, black vultures,
  • Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) “but these you are not to eat: eagles, vultures, ospreys,
  • Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) “But don’t eat any of these birds: eagles, vultures, buzzards,
  • English Standard Version (ESV) “But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
  • Expanded Bible (EXB) “But do not eat these birds: eagles, vultures, black vultures, 13 red kites, falcons, any kind of kite,
  • GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) “But here are the birds that you should never eat: eagles, bearded vultures, black vultures,
  • International Children’s Bible (ICB)  “But do not eat these birds: eagles, vultures, black vultures,
  • International Standard Version (ISV) “You may eat all clean birds, 12 but you must not eat any of these: the eagle, vulture, osprey, 13 buzzard, any kind of kite,
  • Names of God Bible (NOG) “But here are the birds that you should never eat: eagles, bearded vultures, black vultures,
  • New English Translation (NET) “But do not eat these birds: eagles, vultures, black vultures,
  • New International Reader’s Version (NIRV) “But there are many birds you can’t eat. They include eagles, vultures, and black vultures.
Leviticus 11:18 and Deuteronomy 14:17 (NKJV) mention a carrion vulture. Jeremiah 12:9 mentions a speckled vulture.
All of these verses give us several different kinds of vultures.
vulture
bearded vulture – covered in Bible Birds – Ossifrage
black vulture
carrion vulture
speckled vulture
I am sure if I checked all of the translation available in BibleGateway, I would find some other type of Vulture. That might be a project you could do.
The vultures belong to the same family as the Buzzards recently written about. Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks & Eagles Family.
“A vulture is a scavenging bird of prey. The two types of vultures are the New World vultures, including the Californian and Andean condors, and the Old World vultures, including the birds that are seen scavenging on carcasses of dead animals on African plains. Some traditional Old World vultures (including the bearded vulture) are not closely related to the others, which is why the vultures are to be subdivided into three taxa rather than two. New World vultures are found in North and South America; Old World vultures are found in Europe, Africa, and Asia, meaning that between the two groups, vultures are found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.”

White-backed Vultures (Gyps_africanus) on zebra carcass ©WikiC

From that description, again, you can see why those birds aren’t eaten. Eating something they just killed would be bad enough, but to eat things that had already died. That is not the kind of bird you would want to eat at Thanksgiving.
Here are some of the Vultures from around the world:

ABC’s of the Gospel

Scripture Alphabet of Animals: The Vulture

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) by Africaddict

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) by Africaddict

Scripture Alphabet of Animals: The Vulture

By Harriet N. Cook (1814-1843)

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 wings.

Black Vultures at Saddle Creek by Lee

Black Vultures at Saddle Creek by Lee

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.

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) by Nikhil

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) by Nikhil

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.

(Blog formatted by Lee)

See:

Harriet Newell Cook – Scripture Alphabet of Animals

Birds of the Bible

Birds of the Bible – Vulture

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks & Eagles

Nave’s Topical Bible – Vulture

*

Bible Birds – Vulture Introduction

Vulture Introduction

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) WikiC

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) WikiC

And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, (Leviticus 11:13 NKJV)

The Bible list Vulture or Vultures in 5 – 11 different verses (depending on version)

There are sixteen (16) Vultures in the Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles Family. These are the “Old World” Vultures (found in Asia, Africa and Europe). When the Bible mentions a Vulture, it would have be one of these, most likely.

Bearded Vulture
Cape Vulture
Cinereous Vulture
Egyptian Vulture
Griffon Vulture
Himalayan Vulture
Hooded Vulture
Indian Vulture
Lappet-faced Vulture
Palm-nut Vulture
Red-headed Vulture
Rüppell’s Vulture
Slender-billed Vulture
White-backed Vulture
White-headed Vulture
White-rumped Vulture

There are seven (7) “New World” Vultures (found in the Americas) that belong to the Cathartidae – New World Vultures Family.

Andean Condor
Black Vulture
California Condor
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture
King Vulture
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Turkey Vulture

Sometime Vultures are called Buzzards and sometimes Buzzards are called Vultures. They are similar, and in the same family. New World vultures (found in the Americas) and Old World vultures  aren’t actually closely related. Buzzards are also mentioned in the Bible. See Bible Birds – Buzzard

Color Key to Birds - Vulture

Turkey Vulture – Color Key To North American Birds

Generally large birds with hooked bill; strong, heavy feet, and long, curved nails; wings large; tail rather long, usually square.

From various internet Amazing Bird Facts:

  • New World vultures and Old World vultures aren’t actually closely related.
  • Slowest Wingbeat of any bird: vultures at 1/sec
  • Highest flying bird: Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture at 11,274 m (7 mi) or 37,000 ft, at this height human beings would die from lack of air. It flew into a plane.
  • New World vultures may be more closely related to storks than to other raptors.
  • A group of vultures is called a committee, venue or volt. In flight, a flock of vultures is a kettle, and when the birds are feeding together at a carcass, the group is called a wake.
  • It is a myth that vultures will circle dying animals waiting to feed.
  • The Andean condor, found in South America, has the largest wingspan of any vulture in the world, with a spread of 10-11 feet when the bird extends its wings.
Condor-Turkey-King Vulture Sign at Brevard Zoo by Lee

Condor-Turkey-King Vulture Sign at Brevard Zoo by Lee

Click on Photo to make full screen

*

More Bible Birds

Bible Birds – Vulture

Birds of the Bible – Vulture

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles Family

Cathartidae – New World Vultures Family

*

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Birds of the Bible – How Many Are There? I

Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

The list of the Birds of the Bible varies according to which version of the Bible you use. We have discussed this in other articles, but don’t think I ever actually listed them all. An article from Birding and the Bible says there are 29 and then questions 2 of them, the Glede and the Ossifrage, adding the Swift, his lists is 28 or 29.

The sidebar here has links to 33 pages of Bible Birds. There are a few more I am considering adding. After this study, I may find even more. I am going to write this as I do my research using my e-Sword program (free). Currently, I have quite a few versions of the Scriptures loaded and want to see what is listed. (Disclaimer About Bible Version Usage) Let’s get started.

The very first reference to birds or fowls, is in Genesis 1:21. That is where God created “every winged fowl after his kind” (KJV) or ” every winged bird according to its kind” (NKJV). Most agree with, “And God saw that it was good.” Here are some of the other ways of stating it:

  • “winged creature feathered  according to type.” (ABP+)
  • “every creature that flies with wings according to its kind,” (Brenton)
  • “every kind of bird that flies in the air.” (ERV)
  • ” all kinds of birds.” (GNB)
  • “He created every kind of bird that flies.” (NIrV)

So basically, all agree that the birds or fowls were created after their kind or type on the fifth day (1:23) and that God saw that it was good. That right there includes all the major families of birds, some have become extinct, some which interbred within their kinds, etc. until today we now have over 10,000 named species of birds. (Birds of the World)

In Genesis 1:25 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion” over birds, etc. The term his is given as “dominion over”, “have rule over”, “power over” (GNB), “be masters over” (ISV), “So they can be responsible for” (MSG).

Then in Genesis 2:20, Adam named the birds that the LORD God brought to him. The version all agree that they are birds or fowls or the air or heavens.

In chapter 3, Adam and Eve sin against God and we all come under the judgement including the critters, birds included. By chapter 6, things are so bad that the LORD tells Noah to bring two of every kind of critter into the Ark and then in 6:20, the birds are again mentioned. They are to be preserved in pairs of sevens. Again, no specific named bird is mentioned throughout chapter 6 or 7.

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Lee

During and after the Flood, then we finally here of specific named birds. The first bird named in the Bible is the Raven. Noah opened the window of the ark and “sent forth a raven” and it flew back and forth “until the waters were dried up from off the earth.” (KJV) Other than spelling differences, they all agree on the Raven. The same is true of verse 8 where the Dove was released. The Dove kept coming back until the waters were totally dried up. The third time it was released, it did not return.

So now we have 2 Birds of the Bible – the Raven and the Dove.

The next reference to birds is in 9:2 where the birds now have a fear of humans placed on them. They, the birds, are told to multiply and fill the earth and are given a covenant or promise by God that the earth would never be destroyed by a worldwide flood again. Gen 9:10-17 – the Rainbow.

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis 9:2 KJV)

King Vulture Brevard Zoo 120913 by Lee

King Vulture Brevard Zoo by Lee

In Genesis 15:9 we find the next birds, a Turtledove, young pigeon and in 15:11, the vultures. Two are sacrificed birds, the other is coming to take from the alter.

So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:9-11 NKJV)

Let’s see how these birds are given in the various translations. “dove” several, “turtle” (DRB), “mourning dove” (GW), “even a nestling” (LITV), and “young bird” (YLT). Most are in agreement with spelling differences from the old English of some of the translations.

Verse 11 has: birds of prey, birds, fowls, large birds (DRB), swoopers (ECB), Vultures (GNB, MSG, NKJV), and ravenous birds (YLT). Never heard of “swoopers”, so I guess that one doesn’t count. What you think? They all realize that some birds came swooping down trying to get at the sacrifice, but Abram drove them away.

Our list of Birds of the Bible so far:

Also mentioned:

  • Swooper (Gen 15:11)

For now, that is enough. To be continued in Part II.

Birds of the Bible

Wordless Birds

*

Vol 2 #2 – The Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture Tree at Saddle Creek by Lee

Turkey Vulture Tree at Saddle Creek by Lee

THE TURKEY VULTURE.

This bird is found mostly in the southern states. Here he is known by the more common name of Turkey Buzzard.

He looks like a noble bird but he isn’t. While he is well fitted for flying, and might, if he tried, catch his prey, he prefers to eat dead animals.

The people down south never think of burying a dead horse or cow. They just drag it out away from their homes and leave it to the Vultures who are sure to dispose of it.

It is very seldom that they attack a live animal.

They will even visit the streets of the cities in search of dead animals for food, and do not show much fear of man. Oftentimes they are found among the chickens and ducks in the barn-yard, but have never been known to kill any.

One gentleman who has studied the habits of the Vulture says that it has been known to suck the eggs of Herons. This is not common, though. As I said they prefer dead animals for their food and even eat their own dead.

The Vulture is very graceful while on the wing. He sails along and you can hardly see his wings move as he circles about looking for food on the ground below.

Many people think the Vulture looks much like our tame turkey.

If you know of a turkey near by, just compare this picture with it and you won’t think so.

See how chalk-white his bill is. No feathers on his head, but a bright red skin.

What do you think of the young chick? It doesn’t seem as though he could ever be the large, heavy bird his parent seems to be.

Now turn back to the first page of July “Birds” and see how he differs from the Eagle.

THE TURKEY VULTURE

THE TURKEY VULTURE

From col. F. M. Woodruff.


THE TURKEY VULTURE.

imgt

URKEY BUZZARD is the familiar name applied to this bird, on account of his remarkable resemblance to our common Turkey. This is the only respect however, in which they are alike. It inhabits the United States and British Provinces from the Atlantic to the Pacific, south through Central and most of South America. Every farmer knows it to be an industrious scavenger, devouring at all times the putrid or decomposing flesh of carcasses. They are found in flocks, not only flying and feeding in company, but resorting to the same spot to roost; nesting also in communities; depositing their eggs on the ground, on rocks, or in hollow logs and stumps, usually in thick woods or in a sycamore grove, in the bend or fork of a stream. The nest is frequently built in a tree, or in the cavity of a sycamore stump, though a favorite place for depositing the eggs is a little depression under a small bush or overhanging rock on a steep hillside.

Renowned naturalists have long argued that the Vulture does not have an extraordinary power of smell, but, according to Mr. Davie, an excellent authority, it has been proven by the most satisfactory experiments that the Turkey Buzzard does possess a keen sense of smell by which it can distinguish the odor of flesh at a great distance.

The flight of the Turkey Vulture is truly beautiful, and no landscape with its patches of green woods and grassy fields, is perfect without its dignified figure high in the air, moving round in circles, steady, graceful and easy, and apparently without effort. “It sails,” says Dr. Brewer, “with a steady, even motion, with wings just above the horizontal position, with their tips slightly raised, rises from the ground with a single bound, gives a few flaps of the wings, and then proceeds with its peculiar soaring flight, rising very high in the air.”

The Vulture pictured in the accompanying plate was obtained between the Brazos river and Matagorda bay. With it was found the Black Vulture, both nesting upon the ground. As the nearest trees were thirty or forty miles distant these Vultures were always found in this situation. The birds selected an open spot beneath a heavy growth of bushes, placing the eggs upon the bare ground. The old bird when approached would not attempt to leave the nest, and in the case of the young bird in the plate, the female to protect it from harm, promptly disgorged the putrid contents of her stomach, which was so offensive that the intruder had to close his nostrils with one hand while he reached for the young bird with the other.

The Turkey Vulture is a very silent bird, only uttering a hiss of defiance or warning to its neighbors when feeding, or a low gutteral croak of alarm when flying low overhead.

The services of the Vultures as scavengers in removing offal render them valuable, and almost a necessity in southern cities. If an animal is killed and left exposed to view, the bird is sure to find out the spot in a very short time, and to make its appearance as if called by some magic spell from the empty air.

“Never stoops the soaring Vulture
On his quarry in the desert,
On the sick or wounded bison,
But another Vulture, watching,
From his high aerial lookout,
Sees the downward plunge and follows;
And a third pursues the second,
Coming from the invisible ether,
First a speck, and then a Vulture,
Till the air is dark with pinions.”

Summary:

TURKEY VULTURE.Catharista Atrata.

Range—Temperate America, from New Jersey southward to Patagonia.

Nest—In hollow stump or log, or on ground beneath bushes or palmettos.

Eggs—One to three; dull white, spotted and blotched with chocolate marking.


Turkey Vulture flying by - LPP

Turkey Vulture flying by – LPP

Lee’s Addition:

There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: (Job 28:7 KJV)

We see Turkey and Black Vulture quite frequently here. I only disagree with one part of the article. “The Vulture is very graceful while on the wing. He sails along and you can hardly see his wings move as he circles about looking for food on the ground below.”

The way I distinguish the Turkey and Black Vultures apart is that the Black (BV) is steady on the wing, but the Turkey TV) is wobbly on the wing. They have a rocking motion, even when it is not windy. Another way to tell the two apart is the V of the Turkey and the flatter wings of the Black, who also has white on the tips of their wings.

They belong to the Cathartidae – New World Vultures Family. There are 7 Vultures and 2 Condors in that family.

*

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

*

(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – To A Water-Fowl

The Previous Article – The Evening Grosbeak

Sharing The Gospel

Links:

Birds of the Bible – Vulture

Birds of the Bible – Gathering of Vultures or Eagles

Birds of the Bible – Griffon Vulture

Scripture Alphabet of Animals: The Vulture

Birds of the Bible – Vulture Eyesight

When I Consider! – Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture – Wikipedia

*