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The Fanes' saga - Short essays

The vulture

The vulture of the Dolomites is the gypaetus, or bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus; in German: Bartgeier; in Ladinian: Variul; in Italian: Avvoltoio degli agnelli). Hunted to extinction at the end of the XIX century, it is being reintroduced in these years. It has been sighted, e.g., on the Tofane; its nesting places are kept strictly secret.


Larger than a golden eagle, for which it can be mistaken, the bearded vulture can reach a wing span of 270 cm and a weight up to 7 kg. Tail and wings are dark, while head and breast are reddish. At the base of his powerful beak it shows a sort of black bristles.
Both in Italian and German it is also named “lamb vulture”, what should imply a propension to feed on medium-to-small animals; its diet consists however in prevalence of bleached bones. Very powerful gastric juices allow him to digest this food, that other predators don’t dispute. The vulture breaks the big bones he can’t gulp directly, throwing them on the rocks from a height of several tens of meters.


In the Fanes’ legend, the vulture represents the totemic animal adopted by the Fanes when they relinquish their ancient marmot and their lifestyle becomes aggressive and inclined towards predation.