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Bearded vultures in the Alps – looks like we are having another great breeding season!

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The bearded vulture breeding season is in full swing, and so far, we have news of at least 41 occupied territories in the Alps. There are three territories in the eastern part of the Alps, 15 in the Central Alps, 19 in the north-western Alps and four in the south-western part of the Alpine range. In terms of countries, there are 3 pairs in Austria, 17 in Switzerland, 8 in Italy and 13 in France (see map).

At least 33 of these pairs have laid eggs – amongst those, two new breeding pairs, in Bonette (FRA – south-west) and Buffalora (CHE – Central). We are still expecting news from several pairs. Last year 43 breeding territories produced 25 fledglings, while in 2015 there were 34 pairs and 20 fledglings.

Further, several individuals that had not been seen since 2004 and 2005 were recently confirmed alive, recognised by their rings – some of the hundreds of observations of bearded vultures reported in our IBM database during every month, and that are crucial for us to measure survival and establish demographic parameters for this population.

The VCF coordinated the reintroduction project in the Alps, together with many partners in 4 countries. First releases started in 1986, the first breeding in the wild was in 1997 and now we are only releasing genetically rare individuals to strengthen the genetic diversity of the population before closing this most successful project – the population is now expanding rapidly with the breeding of wild pairs.

Photo: Bruno Berthémy/VCF

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