Two different individuals of bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) have been seen last week in Extremadura – at the Monfragüe National Park.
One of the birds was identified easily as it had bleached feathers (see photo), a commonly used marking technique applied in the bearded vulture reintroduction projects in Europe. This individual is now one year old, and has been released in Andalusia last summer as a part of the reintroductions project in Cazorla, led by the Junta de Andalucía, in partnership with the VCF.
Some days later after another individual – unmarked – was observed nearby, and its plumage suggests it is a two year old individual. This bird has probably come from the Pyrenees, the nearest natural population.
The bearded vulture became extinct in Extremadura as a breeding species by the mid XXth century, as result of the widespread use of poison and direct persecution. During the last 50 years there have been about 20 sightings of this species, mostly birds dispersing from the Pyrenees, or more recently from the reintroduction project in Andalusia. This project started in 2006, and so far 28 birds have been released in Andalucia, of which at least 14 remain alive. (with thanks to Sergio Mayordomo, Javier Prieta & John Muddeman).