It is always exciting when the first Bearded Vulture pair lays a clutch in captivity every breeding season, and we are happy to report not one, but two pairs have already done so! It seems that the 2020/21 breeding season got off to an early start and is now in full swing.
Alex Llopis who is VCF's Captive Breeding Vultures Manager, also coordinates the Bearded Vulture Captive Network (EEP), so he is quite busy during the breeding period, keeping track of the behaviour of pairs and advising partners when necessary. Now, two of our partners, one in Armenia and the other in Austria, have reached out to tell us that they welcomed clutches!
Two Bearded Vulture eggs in Armenia
On Friday, 29 November 2020, our colleagues from Armenia at the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) informed us that the pair laid their first egg of the season. The human keepers continued to closely monitor the nest, hoping that the female will lay a second egg in the coming days, and she did! On Wednesday, 2 December, the pair welcomed their second egg.
One Bearded Vulture egg in Austria
Female incubating the egg in Austria
We received more pleasant news on 30 November by Hans Frey, one of the Bearded Vulture captive breeding pioneers on the VCF's Advisory Board. He got in touch to let us know that the pair BG 108x175 laid their first egg at Richard Faust Bearded Vulture Specialised Captive Breeding Centre in Austria, which hosts most Bearded Vulture individuals in captivity. This pair actually signalled the start of the breeding season this year, when they performed their first unsuccessful copulation in September.
Let's hope that all three eggs are fertile and will hatch chicks, and that this will be another productive breeding season!
Captive-breeding Bearded Vultures
The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) coordinates the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Network (EEP) of zoos, specialized breeding centres, recovery centres and private collections on behalf of EAZA. This involves closely working with over 40 partners of zoos and specialized centres across Europe to ensure the best breeding results from the 180 birds within the Network. Thanks to these captive breeding efforts, since 1978, a total of 585 Bearded Vultures chicks have been produced in captivity, out of which, 343 have been released into the wild to reintroduce or restock the species population across Europe!