Five Rueppell´s vultures observed together in Portugal

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Photo Inigo fajardo/VCF
Photo Inigo fajardo/VCF

On the 4th of August, a Portuguese birdwatcher (João Guilherme) observed 5 Rueppell´s vultures, together with one black vulture and one Eurasian griffon, next to a carcass of a sheep near Estremoz, in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal. This is a remarkable count of an African vulture species (endangered in the IUCN list) that has been observed in increasing numbers in the Iberian peninsula – every autumn or spring several birds of this species are counted during the regular monitoring of the raptor migration in the straits of Gibraltar – e.g. 21 going south during the whole of the 2012 fall season in Tarifa. In the extreme southwest of Portugal (Sagres) about 4-5 different individuals of Rueppell´s vulture are seen every fall among the many hundreds of Eurasian griffons that occur there on passage.

Rueppell´s vultures probably mix with wintering Eurasian griffons in West Africa, and then come to Europe with them. The species has also tried to breed in Iberia, in hybrid pairings with Eurasian griffons, but to date there has not been any evidence of successful breeding (mixed pairs or same species).

Last Fall a Rueppell´s vulture was winged tagged in Portugal, and was then seen in France and Spain, indicating these birds range wide and far across the continent during their European sojourn.

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