Black vulture Bernardus goes south in Spain

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The captive-bred black vulture Bernardus (released last September in southern France) has continued its trip south after a stay-over in the Spanish Pyrenees – see here.

The bird – a young female – is now near Gibraltar. Bernardus is equipped with a GPS transmitter (see pictures), and we have been following her journey since September. She first started to explore the surroundings around the release site, and after 3 weeks she flew to Baronnies where another black vulture re-introduction project takes place. Her next stop was then the Massif Central, where she stayed until the beginning of November. She then flew onwards to the Spanish Pyrenees, north of Lleida, where she spent several days near a supplementary feeding site.

Bernardus then travelled south and followed the Mediterranean coast of Spain till the Gibraltar area – will she cross the sea or winter in Andalucía, which has a significant population of the species?

Bernardus was born in the Pairi Daiza Zoo/Animal park, Cambron, Belgium, within the European captive breeding program (EEP) for the Eurasian black vulture, which tries try to breed the species in captivity to provide the chicks to reintroduction projects. It was transferred to Verdon (France) last summer, and released there in September.

The VCF has been involved with the reintroduction of black vultures in France, mostly by facilitating the transfer of birds from Spain (wild origin, but coming via rehabilitation centres after they are picked up injured or exhausted), in collaboration with regional administrations in Spain and the French NGOs associated with the reintroduction sites. There are now at least 35 pairs of black vultures breeding in France, in three different nuclei, and soon this reintroduction project will wrap up.

To continue to follow the movements of Bernardus, please click here


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