Following the release of the first bearded vulture young in Cazorla (see here) and the Grands Causses (see here) , the next two birds – a male born at the Richard Faust bearded vulture captive breeding center in Haringsee (Austria) and another male born at Ostrava Zoo (Czech Republic) will be released Thursday in the Hohe Tauern National Park, as part of the bearded vulture Alpine reintroduction project.
The birds will be presented to the public in a ceremony at 11:00 am in Kals am Großglockner,, and will then be taken to the platform high up in the mountains, where they will stay until they fledge naturally.
Releases in Austria (on the eastern end of the Alpine arch) started in 1986 and so far 59 birds have been released in the country. The species first attempted to breed in Austria in 2000-2001 at Heiligenblut, but this pair disappeared soon after. In 2001-2002 a pair started their breeding attempts at Rauris, and was eventually successful in 2009-2010, with a second pair appearing in Katschberg the same year. A third pair was established last year also in the Hohe Tauern National Park. This year only one of these three pairs has been successful, and so far these three pairs produced 5 fledglings.
On the margins of the main nucleus of the species, the recolonization of the Austrian Alps has been slower and less successful than on other alpine regions. Nevertheless, the establishment of a reproductive nucleus on the eastern Alps is crucial for the long term restoring of the distribution range of the species in Europe, as the species is the gateway to the Balkan mountains.
The two males to be released this year both come from a double clutch. The male from Haringsee hatched on 22th February from the second egg of a double clutch, laid on New Year´s day. It was adopted by a foster pair. Its parents are one of the most productive breeding pairs in the bearded vulture captive breeding network – its mother laid so far 51 eggs since 1989! The young one coming from Ostrava zoo is from the 1st egg of a double clutch, laid on the 3rd of January. The 2nd egg was removed a day after the chick hatched in the nest and adopted by the older breeding pair, while the chick now to be released was reared by its parents – the first time this pair managed to raise a young! Until this year all chicks hatched in the nest of this pair died just after hatching. This year staff from Ostrava zoo took extra care and during the first days the chick was fed several times a day with supplementary food. As soon as the parents learned to feed well the chick and he won weight, supplementary feeding was stopped.