The International Observation Days (IOD) for bearded vultures have started in 2006, and consist in a one-day simultaneous count of bearded vultures across the whole Alpine arc, organised by the International Bearded Vulture Monitoring network (IBM), which is coordinated by the VCF.
This count allows for a thorough monitoring of the bearded vulture population status and the distribution in the Alps. Furthermore, the count produces many sightings of identifiable birds, thus generating baseline data for survival analyses and demographic modelling. Besides the valuable information about the dynamics of the reintroduced population, the IODs also play a significant role in creating public awareness about bearded vultures.
Over the years this event, which takes place during the first fortnight of October, has become an important date for ornithologist and bird-watchers, who are fascinated by this large bird species. The number of volunteer observers has been growing every year - last year we had over 770 participants, that logged in almost 500 bearded vulture observations.
Crossing the observation data with expert knowledge about the presence of territorial and tagged birds, we estimate that we have seen last year between 149 and 178 different bearded vultures. The current estimate for the total population size for the Alps – obtained by updating the demographic model developed in 2009 – predicts a population size of 227 individuals. This means that between 60 to 70% of the birds in the Alps were seen last year during the IOD!
Among the observed birds last year 17% of were identified as juveniles, 19% as immature, 8% as subadult and 52% as adult birds. Furthermore, it was possible to identify individually 88 bearded vultures, thus providing us valuable information on their life history.
This year´s count is this weekend, on the 7th October. All over the Alps, people will spend the day in the mountains and keep an eye on the bearded vultures and count them! Please contact the regional coordinators below if you are interested in participating or contact us for any other question:
Austria - firstname.lastname@example.org
Italy - Stelvio: email@example.com
Italy - Aosta: firstname.lastname@example.org
Italy - Alpi Marittime: email@example.com
France - Haute Savoie: firstname.lastname@example.org
France - Mercantour: email@example.com
France – Vanoise: firstname.lastname@example.org
France - Écrins: email@example.com
France - Grands Causses: firstname.lastname@example.org
France - Vercors: email@example.com
France - Les Baronnies: firstname.lastname@example.org
The IBM is partially funded by their partners, and by funding contributions from the EU LIFE Fund through the LIFE GYPCONNECT and the MAVA foundation.