In the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia there are only about 15 observations of bearded vulture, despite the relative vicinity with the Austrian National Park Hohe Tauern, where birds have been reintroduced, and a small breeding population has been established (3 pairs). Bearded vultures never stay in the easternmost Italian Alps more than a few days and never a bird remained for a long time in the area.
In May 2016 an immature bird was observed from the 15th until the 27th in the Jualian Alps. The first observation was done in the pre-Alpine area, afterwards the bird moved in the area of M. Montasio. This bearded vulture was observed in 3 occasions together with griffon vultures, and twice eating on carcasses of wild ungulates (probably dead of mange). No rings or markings have been noted, suggesting it is a wild-bred bird.
The Eastern Italian Alps are a bridge to the Balkan mountains, from where the bearded vulture disappeared last century. The VCF hopes to focus on the restoration of the bearded vulture population in that part of Europe after the on-going and successful reintroduction projects in Western Europe are completed – but that will take several years!
Photos by Renato Pontarini & Andrea Piussi, text by Fulvio Genero (VCF advisory board member)