In the last few days black vultures have been observed in some unusual localities in northern France: Two individuals were seen at La Chapelle-sous-Uchon in Saône-et-Loire on the 3th of May, while another Black Vulture and two Griffons were seen in Audrehem in Pas-de-Calais two days earlier.
These observations of black vultures in spring far from their breeding grounds are becoming more common, and are certainly a result of the increasing population of this species in France (and also in Spain).
The black vulture went extinct in France in the beginning of the XXth century, but the species is now back following a very successful reintroduction project, started in 1992, and that is still on-going. The first birds were released in the Grands Causes, while in 20014 and 2005 two other reintroduction sites were established, in Baronnies and Verdon, respectively.
Releases have already stopped in the Grands Causses (in 2004), but the last few birds are still being released in the other two sites. Most of the vultures released have come from Spain, injured and weak birds that enter rehabilitation centers there and are there sent to France. Some come from captive breeding as well.
First breeding in the wild happened in 1996, 90 years after the last known nesting in France. First breeding in Baronnies happened in 2010, while in the Gorges du Verdon it was registered in 2013. This year there were at least 35 breeding pairs, and the breeding population seems to be slowly increasing.
Some of the released birds travel far and wide – one such example is Bernardus – see here
Photo: Bruno Berthémy/VCF