Bearded vulture seen in Corfu- rare observation of this species in the Balkan Peninsula, where it is extinct

A second-calendar year bearded vulture – a bird born in 2014, has been seen on the 14th of July on the Greek island of Corfu – a remarkable observation of this species in the Balkans, where the species is extinct. The last breeding pair of this species in the region disappeared from northern Greece in the early 2000s, and since then there are only a handful of observations of bearded vultures in the Balkans, the last one two years ago in Bosnia.

The bird now seen in Corfu, which has moulted some of the primary feathers, is not a young released in the three on-going reintroduction projects (Alps-Grands Causses and Andalucia), as it does not feature the feather markings given to the released bearded vultures.

It could have originated from Crete, where there is a healthy and stable bearded vulture population (7 breeding pairs, up from 4 in the early 2000s), or from the Alps, where the species has been reintroduced successfully by the VCF and its partners, with 30+ breeding pairs. Even though most cases of documented vagrancy in the Alps refer to trips that alpine birds do to the north, there have been some documented instances of alpine bearded vultures going south to Italy or Slovenia.

We would like to thank Camilla Gotti for the observation and the photos.

Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    MCostanza Galli (Wednesday, 29 July 2015 16:48)

    Bravissima, entrerai nella storia dell'ornitologia !

  • #2

    Lars Nørgaard Andersen (Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:57)

    I Wonder if the Crete population is "healthy and stable"...? I understand from talks with Fellow bird-watchers here in Denmark, that vultures are haunted(poison or shotguns) on the island.
    best regards

    Lars Nørgaard Andersen

  • #3

    Stavros Xirouchakis/ Crete (Thursday, 06 August 2015 13:32)

    Poisoning is still a problem in Crete but not as significant as in the mainland or the rest of the Balkans. Large carnivores are absent from the island and official or illegal anti-predator projects have never been carried out. (This is actually one of the reasons that vulture species still hold viable populations on Crete). For instance the griffon vulture population numbers more than 1000 individuals (ca. 350 breeding pairs). As far as shooting is concerned, this practice has been diminished compared to past decades due to public awareness campaigns. Collision to wind turbines is a new mortality factor that has not been properly evaluated, though the anticipated investments, will certainly have a devastated effect on the landscape and its rural use.
    All the best.

  • #4

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