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Three new bearded vulture pairs in the French Pyrenees!

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Photo Bruno Barthémy/VCF
Photo Bruno Barthémy/VCF

The preliminary results of this year´s breeding season at the northern Pyrenean slope (French side) report an increase of three new bearded vulture territories (39 territories: 36 pairs and three trios). One of these three new territories is in the east Pyrenees (where 5 pairs now exist). The species has been slowly spreading in the eastern half of the French Pyrenees, in large part due to the wonderful conservation work done by French conservation organisations (very well coordinated by the LPO, League pour la Protection des Oiseaux, and their network Casseur d’os). When Casseur d´os was established, in 1994, there were only 18 territories in the French territories  -17 in the western half,  and only 1 in the eastern half. After 20 years of hard work, including creating new special feeding sites in the extremes of the range, there are now 17 territories in the east half of the French Pyrenees.

All the 39 territories have been monitored closely by the network Casseur d’os –this includes around 15 associations and 350 observers. A total of 29 clutches were registered, and hatchings were registered in 18 nests. In total, 13 young bearded vultures fledged successfully in the French Pyrenees thus year.

Several breeding failures from anthropogenic origin have again occurred this year. Military flights during the most sensitive breeding period have caused disturbances in a minimum of 5 territories, and one of them eventually failed. This was, however, a significant improvement from last year´s situation, when significant disturbance by helicopter flights was registered – 5 from the army, 2 from the police, 1 from shepherds and 2 from other sources. Helicopter flights in the French Pyrenees cause the loss of at least one chick per year, being one of the most important disturbances. Hunting and adventure sports complete the list of disturbances present in the French Pyreneed. This year one territory was disturbed by hunting during the most sensitive period, and 4 by climbers, alpinists, photographers and flyers (wing suit).


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