The young bearded vulture which was observed in mid-February in Western Germany (see here) is still in the area. It was now observed near a road close to Hillershausen by Maria Theresia Herbold (see photo). She saw the bearded vulture sitting on a fox carcass and feeding on it. It was harassed by some crows and did not take off when the car stopped. The fox was most likely a roadkill.
The young bearded vulture has probably now learnt that there is food close to roads – this can be dangerous as it may get hit by a car when feeding on roadkill - hence please send us any further observations.
Following this sighting, some local contacts went back to the fox carcass to check for any feathers left behind by the bearded vulture. Feathers are regularly shed and replaced (all from small down feathers and body feathers to the big flight feathers) and if found can be genetically analyzed. Manfred Hölker found 3 feathers and sent us the pictures for us to check if they are indeed from a bearded vulture. One small down feather might originate from the bearded vulture and will be sent to the lab for analysis. We hope to be able to get a DNA fingerprint which we can then compare with the existing genetic database from the Alps to confirm the origin of the bird.
The VCF would like to thank again the local birdwatchers for their great effort to collect the feathers. It is amazing to see how many people are engaging in following the bearded vulture in Germany! It also made it into the local newspaper, see download below (in German).