The first chick of the 2013-2014 bearded vulture breeding season was born last Monday at the captive breeding center run by ASTERS – Conservatoire d´Espaces Naturels Haute Savoie. You can see a video of the young here.
The pair – Marie Antoinette and Josef – had also laid the first egg this season, on the 4th December. Marie Antoinette and Josef ate early breeders – last breeding season they also laid very early on the 8th December 2012, and successfully raised a chick, that was released in the reintroduction project in Cazorla (southern Spain) last June. Bearded vultures are one of the earliest breeders in Europe – their timing perfectly adapted to have chicks in early spring, when many of the mountain herbivores on which they feed (when they die) have their first births – and birth complications! The snow and cold of their mountain realms does not deter them, and so they incubate through the cold winter months.
Marie Antoinette has a curious story – Born in 1989 in Innsbruck Zoo, within the bearded vulture breeding network managed by the VCF, she was released into the wild as a young vulture on the 1st of June 1989 in Haute Savoie (French Alps). Five years later, precisely on the 19/05/2004, this magnificent female collided with a power line, and broke a wing. After a short period of rehabilitation, she was sent to the breeding center run by ASTERS where one month later received a mate – a male born in 1998 in the specialized breeding center in Haringsee, and kept for captive breeding.
Marie Antoinette and Josef have already raised three chicks, released into the wild in Vercors (France, southwest Alps), Calfeisental (Central Switzerland) and Cazorla.
The Vulture Conservation Foundation is the coordinator of the bearded vulture European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), a collaborative and coordinated network of over 30 zoos, wildlife parks, specialized breeding centers and private collections, that aims to breed the species in captivity for conservation purposes. The bearded vulture EEP is at the base of the ongoing reintroduction projects in the Alps, Cazorla (Southern Spain) and Cevennes (Central France). In the Alps they species is staging a remarkable comeback, with 30 established territories 100 years after it went extinct there.
The VCF would like to congratulate ASTERS, and its dedicated staff, for this birth! We hope this young bird grows strong!