Meet the first Bearded Vulture chick of 2024 hatched in captivity

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Hurray! The first Bearded Vulture chick born in captivity this year saw daylight on 25 January at the Richard Faust Zentrum in Austria. The chick is strong and healthy and, in some days, will be adopted by a foster Bearded Vulture pair.

The first Bearded Vulture chick of this breeding season, BG 1198, hatched in the Richard Faust Zentrum on 25.01.2024 © RFZ

The first Bearded Vulture chick of 2024

The newborn Bearded Vulture BG 1198 descends from the experienced pair BG 108 x BG 175, which has consistently been the first to lay an egg each breeding season for the past years. This season, they’ve laid their first clutch on 4 December 2023 and a second one that has not developed well. It is their 31st chick! The egg spent much of the brooding in an incubator and hatched on 25 January with 135 gr. For now, the chick is being hand-reared by the dedicated staff at RFZ.

The father, a male who hatched in 1989, and the female, three years younger, have been together since 2001. They’ve laid over 40 eggs and hatched 31 chicks, making them the second most successful breeding pair within the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Network (Bearded Vulture EEP, coordinated by us at the VCF on behalf of EAZA’s Ex-Situ Programme). Their record is only surpassed by the legendary Bearded Vultures Hanneke and Jan, who produced 42 chicks and reared many others. The female, Hanneke, unfortunately, passed away last year after successfully hatching two chicks; she was 39 years old.

The chick will be adopted by a foster pair

Even the most experienced pairs face difficulties. During brooding, the female ceased incubating the eggs and conflicted with her partner. The eggs were relocated from the aviary to an incubator. Meanwhile, the female was diagnosed with a tumour in her ear and has been receiving treatment in the VetMedUni Clinic in Vienna since 3 January.

“During this period, birds are more sensitive and nervous. In some cases, including breeding pairs, they can react aggressively against their partners and even injure them.”

Àlex Llópis, VCF Captive breeding coordinator
Bearded Vulture eggs in the incubator at Guadalentín captive-breeding centre

The male got a new pair, BG 1044, a younger female hatched in Tallinn Zoo in 2019. They seem to be doing well, although they haven’t adequately paired yet. Pairing Bearded Vultures is as much of a science as an art; read how we make love happen within the Bearded Vulture EEP. The chick will be reared by another Bearded Vulture pair at the RFZ, a standard practice in our specialised captive breeding centres. Being nurtured by foster parents not only contributes to the chick’s immunity but also allows it to learn from its own species in the most natural way.

A glimpse into the breeding season 2023/24

At the specialised captive breeding centres RFZ, Guadalentín and Vallcalent, 35 breeding pairs have already produced 57 eggs this season. Several are incubated naturally by the parents, while others are in the incubator. Of these 57 clutches, 33 are still incubating.

At three months of age, the new born chick will be released into the wild, contributing to the ongoing efforts to reintroduce and restock the species in various regions across Europe! We hope we will welcome many more healthy chicks!

We will keep you posted on the latest updates. Follow the news of the breeding season on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

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