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Reintroduction of cinereous vultures in Bulgaria – what is happening with the three birds released?

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It’s been a month since Riga, Boyan and Ostrava, Bulgaria’s first young cinereous vultures to be reintroduced in the country since the species was declared extinct as breeding species there in the 1980s, fledged so, what have they been up to?

Exploring the Kotel Mountains

Boyan, the eldest of the released cinereous vultures, is the more adventurous and independent, and has been doing longer flights around the Kotel Mountains. Meanwhile Ostrava and Riga, the youngest of the three, all captive-bred, are staying close to each other as they gain confidence in their flight abilities, making short flights and continuing exercising their flight muscles. 

Since fledging none of the three birds have returned to the hacking nest, choosing to roost independently. Ostrava and Riga have chosen the roosting site used by the local griffons, and that has also been selected by the wild cinereous vulture (most probably from the Dadia colony in Greece) that has recently visited. Boyan is the more restless of the three, choosing different sites including the usual Griffon vulture roosting site in the cliffs. 

The three birds are equipped with GPS transmitters so they can be located at any moment. Although the team of Green Balkans and FWFF are monitoring these birds constantly to make sure that the birds are feeding well, interacting well among them and with other wild or domestic animals. This first mount is crucial for these birds, they have fletched but they are not fully capable to fly and search food for them self. If any strange situation is detected the team is ready to act immediately. 

Finding food

The Vultures Back to LIFE staff regularly deposit food – rabbits, goats and sheep, buffalo, cattle, horses, offal, but mostly domestic pig in several places around the release site in the Kotel Mountains. Ostrava and Riga are regularly observed feeding amongst the throngs of Griffon vultures.

As well as feeding at those sites, Boyan was the first of the three to find food in the wild and was spotted feeding with Griffon vultures on a wild food source.

All three birds are well and gaining in confidence as they adapt to their new surroundings and searching for food. We’ll keep you posted on their developments over the coming weeks and months.  

Updated News 21/09/18

These magnificent images of the birds were taken by Emilian Stoynov showing the increasing confidence of the bird’s flights. 

Vultures Back to LIFE

Led by the wildlife conservation charity Green Balkans, with activities also implemented by the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, and bringing together partners from Bulgaria, Spain and Germany, Vultures Back to LIFE aims to reintroduce the cinereous or Eurasian black vulture to Bulgaria. The team will transfer and release around 60 birds, some from captive-breeding, but mostly coming from wildlife rehabilitation centers in Extremadura (Spain) into the wild in Bulgaria as well as creating supplementary feeding stations and improving populations of wild herbivores, improving the nesting conditions and creating artificial nest sites and tackling some of the major threats to vultures in the country such as insulating electricity pylons and illegal use of poison in the nature. 

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