Following successful releases in Grands Causses , Baronnies, and Andalusia, the 4th bearded vulture to be released this year in the French massif central, and the 7th overall, will be presented to the public tomorrow in a ceremony at 10.30 am at Place du Claux, in Nant, by Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), our partner managing the Grands Causses reintroduction site, and will then be taken to the platform high up in the mountains, where it will stay until they fledge naturally.
The nestling (a female) will be deposited in a cave following the hacking release method, where birds are released at an age of around 90 days old, one month before they fledge. In this age nestlings are able to eat and prepare the food alone, are strong enough to defend themselves against other birds of prey or foxes, but are young enough to recognize the release site as their rearing place. Their learning and adaptation capacities are also in their maximum phase.
The release is done as part of VCF programme to restore the bearded vulture across Europe, that includes several reintroduction/restocking projects across four mountain ranges – Alps, Massif Central, Corsica and Andalusia. It is also done within the framework of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project, an EU funded project that aims to enhance the establishment of the gene flow between the bearded vultures is the Alps and the Pyrenees. The LIFE GYPCONNECT is also co-funded by the MAVA foundation.
Earlier three male bearded vultures have already been released in the Grands Causses - although it was a rainy day more than 100 people, including many school children, the mayor of Nant and representatives from the Department and from the Parc Naturel Régional were present. Two of the birds have actually fledged from their platform today!
The nestling to be released tomorrow comes from the Richard Faust breeding centre (Austria, co-managed by EGS and the VCF). Releases in the Grands Causses started in 2010 and with this last bird 15 birds have been released. Since 2016 the releases are done within the framework of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project.
Bearded vultures take 9 or 10 years to start breeding, so we will have to wait a few more years for the next milestone in the project – the first nest in the wild in the Grands Causses. In the meantime, the VCF, LPO and the other GYPCONNECT partners will continue to work together to re-establish this crucial population in the massif central, within the LIFE GYPCONNECT project.