The Physiologus says of the vulture that she lives in high places and sleeps on lofty rocks an on the tops of temples. When the vulture is pregnant she goes to India to get the eutocius stone; this stone is the size of a nut, and has another stone inside that makes a sound like a bell when shaken. The vulture sits on this stone and gives birth without pain. The interpretation is that those who are "pregnant" with sin must take the spiritual stone, which is Christ, who had his divinity hidden within his human form.

The Epiphanius version is very different. It says that the vulture is the most voraceous of birds, but it still balances 40 days of feasting with 40 days of fasting. The interpretation tells the spiritual man who in "40 days" expects the resurrection of Christ to not foully fill his stomach and thus ruin the merit of fasting.

The van der Borcht copperplate engraving below simply shows a vulture eating a dead animal. Both the vulture and the corpse are acurately drawn.

  |   View in context

The vulture in the woodcut below (from the Rome, 1577 edition) has only small remains to feed on; there is only skin and bones and the leg of some beast.


Properties of the Vulture