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Bearded Vulture: preliminary results of the 2023 International Observation Days

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Every year, thousands of volunteers help us monitor Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) populations across European mountain ranges. Between the 14 – 22 October, over 1100 participants joined the largest citizen-science initiative for the species, providing valuable insight into ongoing conservation efforts. How many Bearded Vultures were observed? Today, we bring you the preliminary results of the 2023 International Observation Days (IOD).

Bearded Vulture, Switzerland, Canton of Valais © Thomas Bachofner, participant of the Vultures in Focus – Photography Contest

Preliminary results of the 2023 International Observation Days

On 14 October, volunteers started early in the morning: many had to hike up for several to reach the observation stop. Europe’s rarest vulture, the Bearded Vulture, inhabits the most remote mountain ranges across Europe. The International Observation Days (IOD) is organised by the International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network (IBM), coordinated by us at the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF). Its success relies on the involvement of dozens of organisations across Europe who coordinate the volunteers engaged.

  • 617 Bearded Vulture observations at ~37% of the sites (256 / 679)
  • 679 occupied observation sites during the focal day 14.10.2023 and the IOD-period until the 22.10.2023. 
With the support of more than 1120 observers that occupied 679 sites, it was possible to observe 617 Bearded Vultures at 254 of the 679 sites (~37%).

Participants and regional coordinators

During the full week, 1124 participants joined the IOD in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Greece. Coordinated by 25 regional partners, who welcomed the volunteers, briefed them, and managed the distribution of observation sites. Thank you to all the volunteers and coordinators involved. Without you, the IOD would never be possible!

IOD – 25 regional coordinators in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Greece organized this year’s IOD on the focal day 14.10.2023 and the following period until the 22.10.2023.

 

The preliminary report, which introduced maps for each region monitored and different age classes is available for download here. The evaluation of the large amount of data is ongoing and will still take some time. The final report will be published in the next few months and shared with all project partners. 

Why are the IODs so important?

The monitoring data provided during the IOD is fundamental to the ambitious ongoing conservation initiatives across Europe to strengthen and restore Bearded Vulture populations. It enables a better understanding of the species distribution range and generates baseline information for scientists on survival rates and demographic modelling. By helping us collect this monitoring data, volunteers provide us with valuable insight to assess reintroduction projects. Together, we can ensure a bright future for the Bearded Vulture in Europe!

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