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Bearded vulture seen in Corfu- rare observation of this species in the Balkan Peninsula, where it is extinct

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A second-calendar year bearded vulture – a bird born in 2014, has been seen on the 14th of July on the Greek island of Corfu – a remarkable observation of this species in the Balkans, where the species is extinct. The last breeding pair of this species in the region disappeared from northern Greece in the early 2000s, and since then there are only a handful of observations of bearded vultures in the Balkans, the last one two years ago in Bosnia.

The bird now seen in Corfu, which has moulted some of the primary feathers, is not a young released in the three on-going reintroduction projects (Alps-Grands Causses and Andalucia), as it does not feature the feather markings given to the released bearded vultures.

It could have originated from Crete, where there is a healthy and stable bearded vulture population (7 breeding pairs, up from 4 in the early 2000s), or from the Alps, where the species has been reintroduced successfully by the VCF and its partners, with 30+ breeding pairs. Even though most cases of documented vagrancy in the Alps refer to trips that alpine birds do to the north, there have been some documented instances of alpine bearded vultures going south to Italy or Slovenia.

We would like to thank Camilla Gotti for the observation and the photos.

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