The first two young bearded vultures resulting from the 2015 breeding season in the captive breeding programme will be released tomorrow in Cazorla, as part of the reintroduction project there. Over the next few weeks, another 13 young will be released in 5 sites across the Andalusian mountains, the Grands Causses (France) and the Alps (see here).
The two young to be released in Cazorla are a young female and a male. The young female hatched on the 16th February in the Guadalentin bearded vulture captive breeding centre run by the Junta de Andalucia, after being raised by a foster pair – its biological parents abandoned the egg early in the breeding season, but due to the intensive monitoring, it could be placed in a foster pair for incubation and rearing.
The male also comes from Guadalentín and it was equally raised by a foster couple – interestingly the egg was incubated by a third couple! These frequent adoptions are necessary to maximise breeding productivity, as the second egg in every clutch is taken away and given to foster parents for incubation – pairs that lost their own eggs. In nature only one chick survives, but in the specialized captive breeding centres, by using foster parents for incubation and rearing, we are able to increase breeding productivity!
The two young will be presented to the public and the press tomorrow at 12:00 in the Paseo del Cristo, in Cazorla, and then taken to the hacking platform high up in the mountains, where they will start their adaptation to the wild.
As they are not yet at fledgling age the young will stay in the platform for a few weeks, starting to learn from the natural environment. They will be fed on a regular basis, but will then fledge naturally.
In a few weeks’ time they will be flying in the same skies as Tono & Blimunda, the adult pair that is breeding successfully this year in Andalucía, the first time the species breeds in southern Spain for more than 30 years – a fantastic milestone in a project that only started 9 years ago. Below you can read the fantastic account by Dr. Francisco Javier Montoro García, the dedicated bearded vulture enthusiast who first saw this chick in the wild – an historic moment, and a just reward to someone who spent many days and nights in the field studying and observing this charismatic species.
You can also see some of Francisco´s photos below.