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Gier-eagle

The name applied to one of the commonest of the vultures, and not an eagle at all. The word is derived from a Hebrew root, meaning "to love," and was applied to the birds because mated pairs seldom separated. These were smaller birds and inferior to the largest members of the family. They nested on a solid base, lived in pairs, and not only flocked over carrion as larger species permitted, but also ate the vilest offal of all sorts, for which reason they were protected by a death penalty by one of the Pharaohs. Because of this the birds became so frequent and daring around camps, among tent-dwellers, and in cities, that they were commonly called "Pharaoh’s chickens." They are mentioned in the Bible in the lists of abominations found in Le 11:13 and De 14:12 (the King James Version "ossifrage"); De 14:17 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "vulture").

Gene Stratton-Porter