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Very early fledging of bearded vultures in Italy’s Stelvio National Park

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Young bearded vulture flying against the mountains of the Italian Alps
Ginger flying in Stelvio National Park (Image taken by Andrea Roverselli)

Famous for breeding early in the season, two pairs of bearded vultures in Italy’s Bráulio and Zebrú valleys have managed to raise chicks that are the Alps’ earliest ever fledglings.  

Ginger and Beppe 

Ginger was the first out of the nest in the Bráulio valley on the 6th of June followed by Beppe in Zebrú valley six days later on the 12th of June, both in the Stelvio National Park.  

The two chicks had their names given to them by school children in Bormio earlier this year, during the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the first breeding of bearded vultures in the Italian alps following reintroduction.

The Braulio pair of bearded vultures are famous within the bearded vulture population in the Alps as one of the earliest breeders ever. For the last three years in a row they have laid their clutch first and this year the females laid on the 26th November, while the pair of birds in the Zebru valley laid their clutch around the 19th December.

Early fledgers

If you don’t count an accidental fledgling of a chick at 100 days old from a nest in Val Chamuera in Switzerland this year, during an intense training of the wings, Ginger now holds the record as holding the earliest ever fledging date.  The “accidental” fledgling in Switzerland managed to fall gracefully just below the nest where it walked around and continues to train its wings but hasn’t managed to fly off yet.   

Bearded vultures in Italy

Bearded vultures became extinct in the Alps in the beginning of the 20th century, but a reintroduction project (coordinated by us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation and implemented by several partners across four Alpine countries) started in 1986 and is still ongoing. The first breeding in the wild occurred in France in 1997, and gipetos (as they are called in Italian) bred in Italy for the first time in 1998. The species has been increasing since then, and last year there were at least 49 territorial pairs (15 in Italy), which fledged 31 fledglings.

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