The International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network’s 2017 Annual Report is published and found the population of the species in robust health during the 2017 breeding season.
Reproduction in the Alps
A new record was set in the Alps during the 2017 breeding season with 31 Bearded Vultures fledgling (14 in Switzerland, eight in France, eight in Italy and one in Austria) from nests in the wild. There were 51 occupied territories across the region with 42 breeding pairs producing a clutch and hatchlings from 32 nests, this is a 74 percent breeding success. However, the reproductive success varies between regions with the eastern parts of the Alps lower than elsewhere. During this year there were four new territorial pairs.
Observations reported to the IBM-network
As most of the population of Bearded Vultures are not marked with a GPS device, visual observations are an essential part of the IBM. In 2017 a total of 1, 430 verified observations were registered in the IBM database. Just under half these observations could be related to known individuals. When combined with the data from our flagship participatory science event the International Observation Days, where members of the public join us in the mountains to count Bearded Vultures for two weeks in October, 129 Bearded Vulture individuals were identified over the year.
Using this data we can estimate the sizes of the populations around 208-251 for the Alpine range, six in France’s Massif Central, five to six in in Aude in the French Pyrenees FRA and 22-33 in Spain’s Jaèn.
During 2017 there were also some observations of young birds far from the home ranges as far away as Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland.
Releases in Europe
We released 18 young Bearded Vultures across Europe, six in the Alpine mountain range, four in the Massif Central and two in Corsica, in Spain six birds were released in Andalusia, two in Parque Natural de Castril and four in Parque Natural de Cazorla.
All of the released birds have been individually marked with rings, bleached feathers and GPS-tags in order to follow the life-history and movements. In 2017, it was also possible to mark two wild-hatched birds (Mison and Gypsy) and a recovered adult Bearded Vulture (Veronika) with solar powered GPS tags.
Bearded Vulture mortality
Unfortunately, six of the released Bearded Vultures died within their first calendar year: four within the Alpine range and Massif Central (Senza, Freddie, Escampette, Pro Natura) and two (Manrique, Bedmar) in Andalusia, Spain. Together with the recaptures of two wild-hatched (Mison and Gyphelp) and three released birds (Lea, Veronika, Durzon), 2017 was a year with an exceptionally high number of mortalities and recaptured birds.
In October 2018 we published the preliminary report on the 2017/18 Bearded Vulture breeding season and we are currently well into the 2018/19 breeding season with at least one recorded wild pair incubating an clutch in Italy’s Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio. As the season progresses we’ll share details from the captive and wild populations of Bearded Vultures.
The International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network
The International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network is a unique international collaboration led by the Vulture Conservation Foundation between national parks and non-governmental organisations to coordinate the monitoring activities for European Bearded Vulture populations. Through this network data is collected about the Bearded Vulture in Europe, shared and made available to everyone working for the conservation of the species. The IBM Network also uses this data and comes together to discuss conservation strategies and priorities for this species on an international level. There are currently 15 partners in the IBM Network and three associated organisations.