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A Swiss Bearded Vulture resurfaced in Baronnies, France, after nearly two years since last observation

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Bearded Vulture Mison recently photographed in Baronnies © G.Foilleret

Do you remember the Bearded Vulture Mison? The female vulture hatched in the Swiss Alps back in 2017, but before fledging, suffered a severe accident and needed to be rescued and rehabilitated. After she made a recovery, Mison was released back into the wild in Baronnies, France. She was last sighted there in 2019, and now, after nearly two years, it seems that Mison returned to the region! 

Mison’s rescue, rehabilitation and release

Mison was one of the 28 Bearded Vultures that hatched in the Alps back in 2017. But, she had an unfortunate start as just shortly before fledging she fell from her nest situated in the Swiss Alps. The fall was long, and hence she broke her leg. Luckily, volunteers were monitoring this nest and quickly detected that Mison needed help. Subsequently, François Biollaz from the Swiss Foundation Pro Bartgeier rescued the young vulture and transported her to the Natur- und Tierpark Goldau. There, the veterinary team performed an X-ray and immediately realized Mison broke a bone, so they then took her to the Tierspital Zürich where they performed surgery with external fixation. After the surgery, Mison returned to Goldau for rehabilitation and physiotherapy. 

She was finally ready to return to the wild five months later by the end of September, but the conditions in the Alps could become tricky quickly, both for the bird and the observation team. At this time of the year, the first snow could fall anytime, making access difficult. Furthermore, snow could easily cover carcasses, making it challenging for Mison to find food. As an inexperienced bird that spent her first weeks and months of life in captivity, she missed the most critical learning period of the species in the wild, where they develop essential skills for their survival. So, it was necessary to release her in a place where the weather conditions were more favourable and food sources more predictable. In the Baronnies (the westernmost pre-Alps), these conditions were met, and the local team from Vautours en Baronnies was more than happy to receive the young female and provide the necessary resources to follow her the first days. 

In October 2017, a team from Pro Bartgeier transferred Mison to Baronnies and equipped her with a small GPS tag to follow her movements. Then, together with the local team, they freed Mison at the hacking cave where they release Bearded Vultures as part of the  LIFE GypConnect reintroduction project. Soon after arriving in the cave, a local Cinereous Vulture landed in the cave and Mison took off for her first-ever flight! 

Mison returns to Baronnies

Following her release, observers from Vautours en Baronnies have been closely monitoring Mison’s movements, seeing her gradually adapting to the wild. The last time they observed Mison in Baronnies was in March 2019 but continued to track her movements thanks to the GPS tag. As the latter has not been emitting any data since last October 2020 (due to a low battery), the local team rejoiced when they identified Mison flying in Baronies thanks to her rings at the beginning of 2021.

She thus joins the numerous Bearded Vultures that have been frequenting the massif these last few days, with at least eight different individuals: 

– Volcaire, released in 2016

– Clapas released in 2018

– Mistral, unleashed in the Vercors in 2019

– Pamela released in 2018

– Gerlinde, released in the Vercors in 2013

– Angèle, released in 2020

– And one immature, unmarked, most likely hatched in nature in 2019.

We hope the number of Bearded Vultures frequenting Baronnies will grow, and they will once again breed in the region following the species’ extinction there. 

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