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What duties do Egyptian Vulture pairs share during the breeding period?

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The  Egyptian Vulture New LIFE project recently published a study revealing insights into the breeding phenology of the Egyptian Vulture. The project used trail cameras installed in two nests in the Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria, studying the habits and the duties the pairs share during their breeding cycle between 2011 – 2018.

Studying Egyptian Vulture pair habits during the breeding cycle

The researchers have been studying the secretive life of Egyptian Vultures for more than ten years now to obtain more knowledge about the species. For the first time, the study reveals the habits during the breeding cycle and more precisely how the pair shares the duties such as the proportion of incubation, the number of switches and food provisioning in the ‘family’. The study used trail cameras in two nets between 2011 and 2018 in the Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria, to study the breeding phenology and behaviour of one pair of Egyptian vultures and to identify nest intruders in 2 nests. In brief, both sexes play a crucial role and complement one another, suggesting that both the male and female are equal, compensating to each other’s duties and keeping the balance.

Egyptian Vulture pair habits during the breeding cycle

The study concludes that both sexes seem to contribute equally to the nest arranging since there was no significant difference, however, the contribution of the female is significantly less important than the male’s in nest building. 

The rate of copulation seen in the nest seems to be the same throughout the years. 

Both sexes seem to contribute more or less equally to the incubation task across the entire period, but the role of the female is more prominent. When there is only one egg, the female is more present during incubation as well as during the night incubation.

Furthermore, both sexes have the same importance when it comes to food deliveries and raising chicks.

Different species visited the nests, and the study suggests to instal artificial barriers for the predators and other pilot instalments such as electric fences, which could prevent nest ravage by predators.

Read the complete study

Dobrev, V., Jambon, A & Yordanov, E. (2019) Trail cameras – insight into the breeding phenology of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria (2011 – 2018). A report under action D1 of the LIFE project “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” (LIFE16 NAT/BG/000874). BSPB, Sofia, 25 p.

Egyptian Vulture NEW LIFE

Working collaboratively projects like the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE aims to reinforce the Egyptian vulture population in their Europe’s easternmost range across the Balkans. By actively managing and restocking the population by releasing captive-bred birds the project will support the small Balkan population which number between 60 and 80 pairs across the whole region. The project is working to deliver conservation measures that eliminate major known threats such as illegal poisoning and electrocution in their summer breeding grounds. Monitoring the population closely using GPS transmitters will also help the project tackle the major threats Egyptian vultures face.  The Egyptian Vulture New LIFE is a partnership of organisations, led by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds from 14 countries spanning Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to protect Egyptian vultures not only in Europe but all along their migratory flyway.

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