The bearded vulture reintroduction project in the Alps has been releasing birds in 8 sites across the Alpine chain, including 2 sites in Switzerland. Last week two more birds were released in the Calfeisen valley (St.Gallen).
Accompanied by more than 250 people, the two young bearded vultures, named Schils and Noel-Leya, were brought to the previously prepared ledge in a cliff high up in the mountains. They were the 11th and 12th young vultures released at this site in the northern Alps. Although there are already several breeding pairs reproducing in the eastern and southern parts of Switzerland, in northern and central Switzerland bearded vultures are still a rare sight. Releases in the Calfeisen will hopefully fill these gaps in the distribution, and will also help enhance the still low genetic diversity in the Alpine bearded vulture population.
Approximately 90 days old, the released birds cannot fly yet. They will be fed during the first few weeks, and their movements monitored round-the-clock. We expect them to fledge around mid-June. Both of them carry a GPS tag to follow their movements.
Schils (www.bartgeier.ch/schils/e) was born in the Parc Animalier La Garenne (Switzerland) and Noel-Leya (www.bartgeier.ch/noel-leya/e) in the Landscape and Animal Park Goldau (Switzerland), both institutions being part of the 30+ network of bearded vulture captive breeding centers and Zoos, coordinated by the VCF. You can follow the development of the birds through a blog (text in German only): www.bartgeier.ch/bilderblog and later their movements will also be assessed on www.bartgeier.ch/streifzuege/e