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Bearded Vultures return to Granada, Andalusia, as a breeding species after half a century since their extinction

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We are thrilled to announce that Bearded Vultures are breeding again in Granada, Andalusia, half a century following the species’ extinction in the area. 

First Bearded Vulture clutch in Granada since species’ extinction

Last year, the reintroduced Bearded Vultures named Vera and Guadalquivir exhibited the first breeding attempt in Granada. They were seen transferring some branches to the territory and performed a few copulations, but nothing more. Still, their behaviour provided hope for successful breeding in the foreseeable future.

The pair photographed last year (c) Paco Montoro García

This breeding season, the pair’s breeding attempts seemed more promising. Following an expedition among the snowy Sierra de Castril Natural Park, technicians of Coordinación Plan de Recuperación de Aves Necrófagas de Andalucía discovered that the pair built a nest, which is the first constructed nest by Bearded Vultures in the area since the species’ extinction there. 

Following this exciting finding, technicians closely monitored the birds’ breeding behaviour, and recently discovered something even more exciting. As it turns out, the pair successfully laid their first clutch and started incubating, a task that is typically equally shared by both Bearded Vulture parents. This news confirms the return of the species in the region as a breeding pair, which is a big milestone for the species’ comeback in Andalusia and Spain. 

A unique collaboration to bring back the species

Of course, this outcome was only possible thanks to the extensive collaboration and involvement of multiple stakeholders. Firstly, the reintroduction project is led by the Junta de Andalucía in collaboration with us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF). Vera and Guadalquivir hatched in captive breeding centres in 2013, one at Guadalentín in Cazorla and the other at Valcallent in Lleida, part of the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Network, which is coordinated by the VCF as part of EAZA’s EEP to reintroduce and restock the species in the wild across Europe. In the same year, when the chick reached around 90-100 days old and before they were fledglings, the Junta de Andalucía released the vultures at a hacking site to acclimatize to the natural environment before taking their first flights into freedom. In Granada, these efforts are supported by the Natural Park, Delegación Territorial de la Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible en Granada and Dirección General de Medio Natural.

We hope that the pair will successfully manage to hatch a chick that will eventually spread its wings and fly into the wild!

Bearded Vulture Reintroduction in Andalusia

Bearded Vultures went extinct in Andalusia in 1986 mainly due to direct persecution, wildlife poisoning and human disturbance at the nesting sites. To bring them back, Junta de Andalucía, and us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) started a reintroduction project in 1996, and the former Fundación Gypaetus was also created to manage the project. Since the first releases in 2006 and with the release of eight individuals this year, 71 Bearded Vultures have been released in Andalusia this year in the provinces of Jaén and Granada. Thanks to tackling threats such as poisoning and releasing birds, the population of the species is gradually increasing. There are currently three Bearded Vulture pairs and 43 confirmed individuals in Andalusia. 

The Bearded Vulture Reintroduction Project is also possible thanks to the support of Agentes de Medio Ambiente, SEPRONA de la Guardia Civil, the Antipoison Programme, the Park and Consejería staff and last but not least, the general public!

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