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First nest of Griffon Vultures in Central Balkan Mountains

First nest of Griffon Vultures in Central Balkan Mountains

13.03.2017
The vultures from the programme for the restoration of vultures in the Balkan Mountains sometimes present us with real surprises… Just like two of the birds, seen regularly near the vulture adaptation aviary at the village of Tuzha, Central Balkan. Yesterday, the field assistant of the Vultures Back to LIFE14 NAT/BG/649 Project informed us that there is a pair of vultures sitting on an egg in a nest on the ground. The team of Green Balkans got quite confused as Griffon Vultures usually nest in remote cliffs high above the ground. Furthermore, the birds remaining in the area of release are mostly young, there are no nearby colonies in the mountains so we did not expect breeding attempts so soon.

In the morning of 13.03.2017 we visited the site to check the signal. To our surprise we did find a nest, built directly on the ground, at the roots of an Oak Tree and a single completely intact nest, incubated by the female, which refused to leave it even if disturbed. As the nest is on the ground, there is a huge threat that it or the baby vulture gets eaten by predators. In addition to that, the nest is right along the pathway of livestock and the egg could easily get stamped on by the cattle or eaten by the shepherd dogs. This is a very delicate situation as Griffon Vultures are protected species and it is completely forbidden to collect their eggs or disturb them. This is why we consulted the experts of the Wildlife Rescue Centre and the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters and having assessed that the pair would not be able to raise the chick there, the egg was taken and immediately transported to the incubators of the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Stara Zagora. Here the egg was measures, weighted and examined by an ovoscope. Unfortunately we cannot yet say if is alive and developing well, but it was set in an incubator. The team will consult international experts on vulture captive breeding to ensure optimal care for the egg. We will know very soon if the egg is fertile and we are prepared to set the chick with foster parents – Griffon Vultures kept at the Rescue Centre.

In the meantime we checked who the mysterious parents of the egg were. The female is a bird tagged K3H – a vulture received as a donation from Lesna Zoo Zlin in 2012, released on 03.08.2013 from the adaptation aviary in Central Balkan. The male – K6C, also hatched in 2012, originates from the area of Madrid, Spain, was shipped to Bulgaria in 2013 and released on 23.03.2014 from the same aviary in Central Balkan. In June the same year K6C was trapped near the village of Tarnichene, was then re-admitted at the Rescue Centre for treatment, returned to Central Balkan in July 2014 and re-released.
This is most probably the first breeding attempt for the two birds and this explains their very clumsy attempts for a “nest”. Such odd behavior is typical for young, inexperienced birds and their first breeding attempts are often unsuccessful. Despite that we truly hope that the egg is fertile and will develop and hatch successfully. We will keep you posted, while you do keep your fingers crossed!

For more information, please contact:
Elena Stoeva – Project Manager LIFE14 NAT/BG/649,
phone: +359 887574699, e-mail: etilova@greenbalkans.org