The International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network (IBM) monitors the Bearded Vultures across seven different regions in Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Besides the common observations and the monitoring of the breeding pairs, the monitoring with GPS tags is important. Both released and wild-hatched birds are equipped with GPS tags. Their age range varies, with the youngest at their first calendar year and the oldest on her 22nd calendar year! Overall, the IBM network monitors 58-tagged birds, which entails analyzing their movements to help inform conservation actions and monitoring them daily to ensure their wellbeing. The freshly fledged birds, both released and wild hatched are only starting to make longer trips, and we expect them to move greater distances next spring. However, there are exceptions. In this blog post, we review the August 2020 movements of the birds monitored with the IBM Network by the local partners.
Monitoring Bearded Vultures in the Alps
The Bearded Vulture was driven to extinction in the Alps during the 20th Century, and to bring them back, pioneers from all Alpine countries initiated the reintroduction project in the 1970s. The first birds were released in 1986 at Hohe Tauern National Park (Austria), and in 1997 the first breeding pair successfully raised a chick in the wild in France. Today, there are around 300 Bearded Vultures, including 55+ breeding pairs, across the Alps.
The partners in the IBM network monitor the movements in the Central, Eastern, South-Western and North-Western Alps across Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. The maps show the different birds, based on their geographic origin.
The birds tagged in the Massif Central come from a captive breeding background and released for reintroduction purposes as part of LIFE GypConnect. This project aims to establish a breeding population of bearded vultures in the Massif Central, as well as in the Pre-Alps, through reintroduction and promoting dispersal movements between the Alps and the Pyrenean population.
The Maestrazgo reintroduction project in Spain started in 2018 to establish a wild breeding population that will bridge the populations in the Pyrenees and Andalusia. Throughout the project, captive-bred birds will be released in specially constructed hacking sites in the Parque Natural de la Tinença de Benifassà and in a unique experiment, the project will translocate adult non-breeding or floater birds from the population in the Pyrenees to the Maestrazgo region to test how effective this method is and if that has an effect on the reproductive productivity of the Pyrenean population.
The population of Bearded Vultures in Corsica is the last vestige of a former meta-population that used to include Sardinia, Sicily, the Alps and Corsica. It has suffered a severe decline in the last decades, with only four pairs remaining while the productivity has plunged even deeper to zero recently. To boost the local population and to promote successful breeding, a reinforcement project releases captive-bred birds from different bloodlines to increase genetic diversity in the wild. Furthermore, it secures the bloodline of the Corsican birds by extracting eggs and raising them within the VCF’s Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Network (EEP) in captivity to breed and provide chicks for reintroduction projects in the future.
Could you help us monitor Bearded Vultures?
Please participate in the International Observation Day (IOD) for the Bearded Vulture to help us count Europe’s rarest vulture. This count allows for thorough monitoring of the Bearded Vulture population status and distribution in almost the full distribution range. Furthermore, the count produces many sightings of identifiable birds, and it generates baseline data for conservation scientists to analyze survival rates and model the age structure of the population, which will help us understand the impacts of the reintroduction programmes.
The IOD is an ambitious conservation initiative that covers seven different countries and cannot be achieved without the help of the public! This year’s simultaneous count is on Saturday, 3 October 2020, and will take place all over the Alps, the Massif Central, the department Aude and Andalusia and Bulgaria. We are inviting people to get involved, pick up a pair of binoculars, spend the day in the mountains, help us look for Bearded Vultures and get counting.
Please contact the IBM partners and regional coordinators below if you are interested in participating or contact us for any other question:
Nationalpark Hohe Tauern: firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Balkans: email@example.com
Asters Haute-Savoie Conservatory of Natural Areas: firstname.lastname@example.org
Le Parc national du Mercantour
Haut Var: email@example.com
Roya Bevera: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parc national de la Vanoise: email@example.com
Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parc naturel régional du Vercors: email@example.com
Vautours en Baronnies: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux de l’Aude: email@example.com
Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parco Naturale Alpi Marittime: email@example.com
Junta de Andalusia (Andalusia and Castilla y León): firstname.lastname@example.org
Stiftung Pro Bartgeier
Central Switzerland: email@example.com
Eastern Switzerland (Graubünden) firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern Switzerland (Tessin): email@example.com
North-Western Switzerland (Bern) firstname.lastname@example.org
South-Western Switzerland (Valais + Western Switzerland): email@example.com
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International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network (IBM)
The International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network (IBM) is a unique international collaboration led by the Vulture Conservation Foundation between national & natural parks and non-governmental organisations to coordinate the monitoring activities for European Bearded Vulture populations. Through this network, data about the Bearded Vulture in Europe is collected, 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 16 partners and two associated organisations part of the IBM-network.
If you have any Bearded Vulture observations and photographs in the Alps, please report them here.