Vultures may not be doing very well in other parts of the globe, but in western Europe they are increasing and expanding their range, following significant investment by the VCF and other vulture conservation originations. One such example is the bearded vulture, which is increasing in western Europe, and recolonizing new areas. In the last years, the species has returned to Andalusia, in response to the reintroduction project there led by the Junta de Andalusia and Fundación Gypaetus, in which the VCF collaborates.
Further good news was announced recently: the species is also breeding in the National Park of Picos de Europa (Asturias), after a 50 years’ absence. The pair – a wild bird of Pyrenean origin and another one reintroduced locally, is now incubating.
The reintroduction of the bearded vulture in Picos de Europa is managed by the Fundación para la Conservación del Quebratahuesos FCQ, and started in 2002. 13 bearded vulture chicks originating from wild eggs from the Pyrenees have so far been released there. Eggs are extracted from nests in the Aragonese Pyrenees, from pairs with zero or reduced breeding results, and are then artificially incubated. The hatched chicks are puppet-reared without human contact at the FCQ bearded vulture breeding centre (CRIAH) located in Alfranca (Zaragoza). As soon chicks are over 60 days old they are transferred in a nest cage with direct view to a feeding site where wild bearded vultures often come. In the last stage when the nestlings are almost 4 months old, they are released through the hacking method in Picos de Europa Mountains. Since 2013 this action is included in the framework of a 6 years LIFE project managed by the FCQ.
We hope that the pair in Picos breeds successfully and thus consolidates the expansion of bearded vultures in the Iberian Peninsula.
You can see a video of the nesting pair in Picos here.
Photo: Bruno Berthemy/VCF