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The Cinereous Vulture chicks released in Bulgaria have successfully fledged!

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Ultron and Barnabie (c) Vultures Back to LIFE

The Cinereous Vulture disappeared from the skies of Bulgaria over the 20th Century and in most other Balkan states by the 1980s. Now, together with the Bulgarian wildlife conservation organisations, Green Balkans and Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, we are working on Vultures Back to LIFE, an ambitious conservation project to bring the species back to Bulgaria for the first time in decades!

How are the two recently released young Cinereous Vultures adapting in the wild? Where did the other reintroduced Cinereous Vultures travel to since July? Let’s find out!

Ultron and Barnabie

The two Cinereous Vulture chicks released in Kotel on 6 August using the hacking method have fledged successfully!

Ultron fledged on 15 August 2019 at 101 days old, seemingly by falling from the hacking platform, but quickly learned to fly and five days later returned to take water and food from the hack. Since then, he is going in and out the hack as he pleases. So far, he was seen three times perching at the feeding site and trying to feed on a carcass in competition with groups of 20-30 Griffon Vultures and 5-7 Cinereous Vultures.

Barnabie fledged on 24 August 2019 at 114 days old. He left the hack with a very controlled flight and perched at a rock 100m away from it where he had the company of local Griffon vultures. Two days later, he returned to the hacking platform by flight. Just like Ultron, 

he gets in and out whenever he wants.

The Vultures Back to LIFE team continues to monitor the birds and provides food and water in the hack.

Riga and Boyan 

After Riga’s visit to Croatia, Italy and Switzerland, the vulture is headed to the Austrian Alps and is exploring the area. Boyan was the first to leave the Balkan Peninsula, travelling to Turkey where he remains. Boyan is continuing to explore the north-west central part of Turkey, moving between Eskisehir, Kutahya and Bolu.

Spanish vultures exploring their new Balkan home

As well as releasing captive-bred birds, the Vultures Back to LIFE project is also releasing adult birds that we transferred from rescue and rehabilitation centres in Spain. Last year 12 vultures came from Spain and this year ten moreThe first release of four birds was back in March, and since their release, they are adapting well in nature. They seem permanently present in the Kotel and Sliven area. Love seems to be in the air for some of them as some breeding behaviour was observed in two pairs.

Vultures Back to LIFE

Led by the wildlife conservation charity Green Balkans, with activities also implemented by the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, and bringing together partners from Bulgaria, Spain and Germany, Vultures Back to LIFE aims to reintroduce the cinereous or Eurasian black vulture to Bulgaria. The team will transfer and release around 60 birds, some from captive-breeding, but mostly coming from wildlife rehabilitation centers in Extremadura (Spain) into the wild in Bulgaria as well as creating supplementary feeding stations and improving populations of wild herbivores, improving the nesting conditions and creating artificial nest sites and tackling some of the major threats to vultures in the country such as insulating electricity pylons and illegal use of poison in the nature.


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