The lammergeyer (Gypaetus barbatus), once common, is now extremely rare, even if it has not already become extinct in the Alps; but the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) still holds its own.
In some external characters the lammergeyer is intermediate between the families Vulturidae and Falconidae, and the opinion of systematists has from time to time varied as to its proper position.
The lammergeyer breeds early in the year.
There is much discrepancy as to the ordinary food of the lammergeyer, some observers maintaining that it lives almost entirely on carrion, offal and even ordure; but there is no question of its frequently taking living prey, and it is reasonable to suppose that this bird, like so many others, is not everywhere uniform in its habits.
But the lammergeyer has also a great partiality for bones, which when small enough it swallows.
The lammergeyer of north-eastern and south Africa is specifically distinct, and is known as Gypaetus meridionalis or G.