Fantastic news from the black vultures of the Douro Valley. Following a successful incubation, the chick from the Douro Valley’s only breeding pair of black vultures is doing well and is around 20 days old. This news comes after some fears that the pair would not return to the area, following the catastrophic forest fires that hit the region in July last year, that killed their chick and destroyed their nest. Their return was dealt a further blow when their second, and only partially affected, nest was occupied by a griffon vulture.
However, back in February colleagues from Portugal’s Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (INCF) and teams from the Arribes del Duero Natural Park in Spain, who monitor closely the pair of vultures, that are nesting on the Portuguese bank of the river, reported that they were building a third nest, with a chick hatching after a successful incubation.
The fires that spread across the region caused devastating loss of human life and destroyed property as well as around a third of the area of the Parque Natural do Douro International – the protected area on the Portuguese side of the canyon was burnt. The ICNF has responded to this threat and this year there will be more fire prevention and fighting brigades ready to act, while new wardens were hired.
The black vulture started to breed in the Douro valley in 2012, in what represented an outstanding recolonisation – the nearest breeding colony is 100 km away, so this is to date the farthest recolonisation known in this species. who usually tends to nest near where it hatched. Thanks to the conservation actions (such as supplementary feeding and habitat management action) being implemented as part of the LIFE RUPIS project (funded by the EU LIFE fund and co-funded by the MAVA Foundation), that started in 2015 – to enhance the Douro population of the endangered Egyptian vulture – the black vultures have certainly also benefited.
Let´s keep the fingers crossed for this valuable baby vulture!
Photo credit: ICNF