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    If the Eagles are considered as bearing a close analogy to the more noble and perfect among the Carnivorous Quadrupeds, such as the Lion and the Tiger, which live in solitary grandeur and attack none but living victims, the Vultures may, with equal propriety, be regarded as the representatives of the Jackal, the Wolf, the Hy?na, and other inferior animals of that Order, which hunt in packs and prey upon carrion. Endowed like these animals with an extreme fineness of scent, they are attracted by the smell of dead, and more especially of putrid, carcases, at an immense and almost incredible distance; and usually assemble in vast numbers to glut[206] themselves upon the disgusting banquet on the field of recent battle, or wherever the work of carnage has been carried to any great extent. Under such circumstances, however horrible that propensity may appear which leads them to prey upon the unburied corpses, they unquestionably fulfil a wise provision of nature by removing from the surface of the earth a mass of corruption and putridity which in the warmer climates where they abound would otherwise taint the very atmosphere, and might possibly give rise to diseases still more fatal in their effects than the malignant passions of man himself, from which the destruction sprung. But although such a scene affords the greatest scope for the indulgence of their depraved appetites, and consequently congregates them together in the largest numbers, it is happily of rare occurrence, and their usual subsistence is derived from the bodies of dead animals. To these they are attracted by the smell, and frequently in flocks so numerous as actually to cover and conceal the object of their attack, from which they tear away large gobbets, and swallow them entire and with insatiable avidity, never ceasing while yet a morsel remains. It is only when hard pressed by hunger that they venture to attack a living creature; and their ravages of this kind are always confined to the peaceful and timid denizens of the poultry-yard. They never carry off their victims in their talons, but uniformly devour them upon the spot; and even that portion of their prey which they transport to their young is first swallowed, and afterwards disgorged in the nest.


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