Great news for Egyptian Vultures in the Balkans! Since May, four Egyptian Vulture chicks hatched at the Green Balkans' Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre! Thanks to the diligent efforts of the centre, this is the second year in a row that chicks successfully hatched. The breeding program of the species is a conservation action within the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE project.
First hatching – off to a good start
One of the eggs of the Egyptian Vulture pair that has a nest at the centre recently hatched, and the pair is now taking care of their chick. This is the second time these vultures become parents at the centre, as last year they welcomed their first chick. Sofia zoo donated the male from the pair and the female is a wild bird, captured in Bulgaria.
Second hatching – bittersweet news
Just after a week of the first hatching, the sibling of this year's first hatchling is born in an aviary at the centre. The centre paid extra attention to the new addition of the family because often the younger chick does not survive in the wild due to the older one's dominance during feeding. They provided plenty of food, so there would be enough for everyone. But the behaviour of the chick was odd as it needed to be hand-fed. Unfortunately, after two days since hatching, the second chick died. Even with the bad news, the centre still perseveres and continues to work hard to help restore Egyptian Vultures in the Balkans.
Third hatching - new inhabitants, new parents
A few weeks after, another pair from the centre became parents. The recent parents are new inhabitants at the centre that were donated by Prague zoo. The team carefully monitored and fed the hatchling, which improved its condition and was soon placed back to its nest. When the hatchling returned, the centre took the other egg and replaced it with a dummy and the egg was moved to an incubator.
Meanwhile, the centre already planned the future of the chick... They will release it at the adaptation aviary in Eastern Rhodope mountain, as part of the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE project.
Fourth hatching – first time incubator success
More exciting news followed as the fourth chick was born! It took three days in the incubator for the egg to hatch. The incubator was necessary because of the risk of competition among offspring. The team now takes care of the chick and will continue to do so until it gains enough weight and it is strong enough to return to its family.
The fourth hatchling returned to its family as it was deemed strong enough.
The centre returned the chick to its nest along with a piece of the eggshell. After the team left the aviary, the parents went to examine the chicks. The transfer seems to be successful as the nest situation is peaceful, and the parents feed both chicks!
Monitoring and feeding process of the fourth hatchling
The Egyptian Vulture New LIFE
Working collaboratively projects like the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE aims to reinforce the Egyptian vulture population in their Europe’s easternmost range across the Balkans. By actively managing and restocking the population by releasing captive-bred birds the project will support the small Balkan population which number between 60 and 80 pairs across the whole region. The project is working to deliver conservation measures that eliminate major known threats such as illegal poisoning and electrocution in their summer breeding grounds. Monitoring the population closely using GPS transmitters will also help the project tackle the major threats Egyptian vultures face. The Egyptian Vulture New LIFE is a partnership of organisations, led by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds from 14 countries spanning Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to protect Egyptian vultures not only in Europe but all along their migratory flyway.