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Strengthening the Alpine Bearded Vulture populations: the last releases of this season

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Celebrating the last Bearded Vulture releases of this season, with two captive-bred Bearded Vultures released in Melchsee-Frutt, Central Switzerland, and in Andalusia, Spain. It has been a remarkable season for the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Network (Bearded Vulture EEP), as we achieved a new record number of chicks hatched and successfully reared. Of the 35 offspring produced, 21 were released in nine different locations, whilst 14 were kept in captivity to ensure genetic diversity and pair renewal within the network.

Bearded Vulture released in Melchsee-Frutt, 2023 © Massimo Prati

Meet “Marco” and “Obwaldera”, the Bearded Vultures released in Switzerland

In Hengliboden, close to Melchsee-Frutt in Central Switzerland, a warm sunny day welcomed hundreds of Vulture lovers willing to witness the release of the captive-bred Bearded Vultures “Marco” and “Obwaldera”. An unforgettable experience for the nearly 350 participants that have heard the speeches and seen the juvenile birds from close! Before being released, the juveniles were ringed and tagged with GPS transmitters, and both got a unique set of feathers bleached, which will help to identify them in flight.

Marco (BG 1180) hatched at the Tallinn Zoo (Estonia), descending from a founder bird. Marco is the first offspring of this pair to be released in the Alps, which means he brings 50% entirely new genes to the Alpine population, an important milestone to ensure genetic diversity. The female Obwaldera (BG 1187), hatched on 15 March at the Richard Faust Specialised Breeding Center in Vienna (Austria), holds an uncommon genetic descendency in the network.  

Why are we releasing Bearded Vultures in Central Switzerland?

Since 2015, Bearded Vulture releases have taken place in Central Switzerland, aiming to increase the Alpine population’s genetic diversity. Individuals with the rarest genetic types from the Bearded Vulture EEP are, therefore, selected to be released at the heart of the Alps! The wild Alpine population is now breeding well, thanks to the reintroduction project that began in 1986.

Together with technicians from the Vulture Conservation Foundation, SPB Stiftung ProBartgeier and Nature and Animal Park Goldau, Marco and Obwaldera were taken to the acclimatisation enclosure. They seem to adapt well to their new environment and will spend the next weeks until they reach flight maturity. You can watch them live thanks to the webcams installed by SPB!

LIVE WebCams: https://www.bartgeier.ch/webcam

We wish the newly released birds a successful life!

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