A total of 18 young bearded vultures was released this year in our four reintroduction-restocking projects: 6 in Andalusia, two in Corsica, four in Grands Causses/Massif Central (within project LIFE GYPCONNECT), and 6 in the Alps/Pre-Alps (four of which, in Vercors and Baronnies, also within the LIFE GYPCONNECT project).
All of the birds fledged without problems, but unfortunately two died: Senza, a female released in central Switzerland, died one day after fledgling on the 23rd June, following a very stormy night – it almost certainly fell from the cliff due to the strong winds, and due to her inexperience could not master the strong aerial currents, and died of severe traumatism after hitting the ground.
Freddie, a female released in the Vercors, was found dead on the 24th July, sometime after fledgling. The cause of death is still unknown, and an autopsy will be carried out this month.
Both birds were easily found due to the tags they all sport – essential to monitor their whereabouts and also survival.
Releasing bearded vultures in the field is a major operation – birds are put usually in pairs on a hacking platform several weeks before they can fledge, and fed at night or though some tubes from the top of the cliff to avoid human contact and imprinting. After fledgling, the amount of food deposited is decreased progressively to encourage them to forage for food on their own.
Throughout this operation, a team of staff and volunteers watches over the birds 24/7, usually from a cabin or hide located 1km or more from the hacking platform, to prevent any problems.
The VCF would like to thank the dozens of volunteers and staff who have spent the last three months in the mountains across Europe looking after the bearded vultures.