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International Observation Days: Volunteers needed to help monitor the European Bearded Vulture population on Saturday 2 October 2021

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international observation days for bearded vultures

The International Observation Days (IOD) for Bearded Vultures will take place in early October for the 16th consecutive year to help estimate the species’ population in Europe. This annual event brings together hundreds of volunteers and experts to search the skies for Europe’s rarest vulture across seven countries, including the following regions: the Alps, the Massif Central in France, Aude in the French Pyrenees, Andalusia in Spain and Bulgaria. If you are a vulture fan that wants to spend a day observing these magnificent birds while helping conservation efforts that favour the species, join us in this year’s IOD!

International Observation Days 

The International Observation Days (IOD) for Bearded Vultures started in 2006 and are organised by the International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network (IBM), coordinated by us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF). It takes place for a week in October with a single focal day, where members of the public join Bearded Vulture experts and experienced bird watchers to carry out simultaneous and coordinated surveys. Initially, the surveys covered the Alpine arc following the Bearded Vulture reintroduction project in the region. But as the population has grown thanks to increasing conservation and reintroduction efforts, the IOD has expanded to include the Massif Central in France, Aude in the French Pyrenees and Andalusia in Spain. It also includes Bulgaria, where there are no Bearded Vultures yet but there are plans to bring the species back to the country and the wider region. 

Why is counting Bearded Vultures important?

This count allows for thorough monitoring of the Bearded Vulture population status and distribution in almost the full distribution range. Furthermore, the count produces many sightings of identifiable birds, and it generates baseline data for conservation scientists to analyze survival rates and model the age structure of the population, which will help us understand the impacts of the reintroduction programmes.

Get involved

The IOD is an ambitious conservation initiative that covers seven different countries and cannot be achieved without the help of the public! This year’s simultaneous count is on Saturday, 2 October 2021 (in case of bad weather, the focus day will be postponed to Saturday, 9 October). We are inviting people to get involved, pick up a pair of binoculars, spend the day in the mountains, help us look for Bearded Vultures and get counting.

Through our network of organizations and IBM partners, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Please contact the regional coordinators below if you are interested in participating or contact us for any other questions:


Nationalpark Hohe Tauern: bartgeier@hohetauern.at


Green Balkans: smarin@greenbalkans.org 


Asters Haute-Savoie Conservatory of Natural Areas: etienne.marle@asters.asso.fr

Le Parc national du Mercantour

Ubaye: francois.breton@mercantour-parcnational.fr

Verdon: verdon@mercantour-parcnational.fr

Haut Var: varcians@mercantour-parcnational.fr

Tinée: tinee@mercantour-parcnational.fr

Vésubie: vesubie@mercantour-parcnational.fr

Roya Bevera: royabevera@mercantour-parcnational.fr

Parc national de la Vanoise: jerome.cavailhes@vanoise-parcnational.fr

Envergures Alpines: envergures.alpines@gmail.com; Dauphiné: christian.couloumy@gmail.com

Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses: noemie.ziletti@lpo.fr 

Parc naturel régional du Vercors: life.gypaete@pnr-vercors.fr 

Vautours en Baronnies: gypaete@vautoursenbaronnies.com


Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio: enrico.bassi76@gmail.com

Aosta: c.chioso@regione.vda.it

Parco Naturale Alpi Marittime: fabiano.sartirana@parcoalpimarittime.it


Junta de Andalusia (Andalusia and Castilla y León): enrique.avila@juntadeandalucia.es


Stiftung Pro Bartgeier

Central Switzerland: franziska.loercher@swild.ch

Eastern Switzerland (Graubünden) jenny.d@compunet.ch

Southern Switzerland (Tessin): roberto.lardelli@gmail.com

North-Western Switzerland (Bern) marco.orni@gmail.com

South-Western Switzerland (Valais + Western Switzerland): juliawildi@bluewin.ch


ZnAlp & LBV (NP Berchtesgaden, Allgäu): henning.werth@reg-schw.bayern.de and toni.wegscheider@lbv.de

Use #CountingBeardedVultures on social media and help raise awareness about this magnificent species!

The VCF wants to thank Parco Natura Viva and the ARCA Foundation for financially contributing to the costs involved in organising this year’s IOD!

International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network (IBM)

The International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network (IBM) is a unique international collaboration led by the Vulture Conservation Foundation between national & natural parks and non-governmental organisations to coordinate the monitoring activities for European Bearded Vulture populations. Through this network, data about the Bearded Vulture in Europe is collected, shared and made available to everyone working for the conservation of the species. The IBM-network also uses this data and comes together to discuss conservation strategies and priorities for this species on an international level. There are currently 18 partners and two associated organisations part of the IBM-network.

If you have any Bearded Vulture observations and photographs in the Alps, please report them here.

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