In Ramayana, Jatayu was believed to be the son of Aruna and a nephew of Garuda.

A demi-god in the form of vulture, Jatayu was an old friend of king Dasharath, father of Lord Rama.
Jatayu was the first person who tried to rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana while he was taking her to Lanka.
He fought valiantly with Ravana. However, being too old to fight alone, Ravana clipped his wings and severely injured him.
Even as Jatayu was battling with life, he managed to inform Lord Rama about Sita's abduction.
Sensing that Jatayu won't survive, Lord Rama, a Vishnu incarnate, decided that Jatayu must attain salvation.

Jatayu, being a demi god in the form of a vulture was not only strong and fiercely but also had a power of vigilance over the skies of all of the empire.

There is also a story of Jatayu and his elder brother Sampati. Sampathi and Jatayu, when young, used to compete as to who could fly higher in nilmatha. On one such instance Jatayu flew so high that he was about to get seared by the sun's flames. Sampati saved his brother by spreading his own wings and thus shielding Jatayu from the hot flames. In the process, Sampati himself got injured and lost his wings. As a result, Sampati lived wingless for the rest of his life. And later, after the death of Jatayu, Sampati helped Rama to avenge the death of his brother and find Sita and bring her back from Ravana's hold.

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