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And it makes 15! Last young bearded vulture of the year to be released tomorrow in Andalucía

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Tomorrow the last bearded vulture to be released this year in the on-going reintroduction projects will be set free in Andalusia – the 6thto be released there this year, and the 15th overall, in what was a bumper breeding season.

The chick – a female – will be released alone, in a rather late date, as it hatched quite late, on the 23rd of April, from the 2nd egg of a double clutch in the specialized captive breeding center in Guadalentín (Andalusia, Spain, managed by Junta de Andalucia and Fundacion Gypaetus).  

This female will be released in the hacking side near the Breeding Center Guadalentín, only a few km far away from the first wild nest in Andalusia in the last 30 years, where a wild born young is also ready to fledge (see here). Three young birds have already been released in this hacking site this year, one of which visited the wild pair and was promptly pushed away by the resident pair.

The father of the chick that will be released tomorrow, named “Andalucía”, is himself the first chick hatched at the Centro de Cría Guadalentín, on the 27th of February 2002. It is paired with a female two years older, descendant of a breeding pair at Nuremberg Zoo.

This female laid for the first time in 2010, immediately a double clutch (very rare in first time breeding birds), but the eggs were infertile. The following two breeding seasons 4 chicks could be obtained from this pair, but during the breeding season 2012/13 the female started to be aggressive against the male, and it was necessary to add a crow in the aviary to re-direct female’s aggressions against the crow. The crow was removed as soon as matting attempts started, but eggs were not fertile.

This season started with the same problem, with the female injuring the male, being necessary to remove and transfer him to a recovery centre. One month later the male could be returned to Guadalentín and was housed in another aviary, with visual contact with other breeding pairs. 20 days later the female was transferred to the male and no more fights could be observed. The female could re-direct all her potential aggression against the neighbour breeding pairs and left the male alone –and in the end we have one more chick!

The European Endangered Species programme (EEP) for the Bearded Vulture is the basis for the VCF-coordinated reintroduction projects ongoing in Europe (Alps-Grands Causses-Andalusia). This year a total of 15 birds could be released: 7 in the Alps (in 3 releasing sites), 2 in Grands Causses and 6 in Andalusia (4 releases; in 2 release sites).

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