Our pair of Bearded Vultures formed a family!

Our pair of Bearded Vultures formed a family!

The two Bearded Vultures in the Wildlife Rescue Centre of Green Balkans are the only representatives of their species in Bulgaria. These magnificent birds have vanished in the 60s, mostly due to poaching and illegal poisoning.

In 2015, after eight long years of waiting, we finally see some practical results - the formation of a breeding pair, which will hopefully one day even raise their very own chick!

The story of our pair began in 2007, when the Wildlife Rescue Centre of Green Balkans - Stara Zagora, received two young vultures, sent by Dr. Hans Frey of the Richard Faust specialized breeding centre in Austria. Our female is of mixed origin - a quarter Greek (from the Crete population) and three-quarters Asian, while the male is entirely Asian. The European bloodline makes our female extremely valuable from genetic point of view an it was very important to continue her line. Unfortunately, Bearded Vultures are extremely picky and hard to please while selecting a partner, and what is more, reach sexual maturity and start breeding in captivity following their seventh or eighth year. To make things even harder, the first husband of our female died only a month after his arrival of aspergilosis. Next year, in 2008, the team of the Richard Faust Centre (Austria) sent us a second male, an year older than our fussy female. As years went by, the male started getting interested in his lady. She however aggressively turned down all his attempts with her strong beak and the poor male lost not a feather or two:

Last year, following a visit by Dr. Alex Llopis of the Vulture Conservation Foundation, the team of the Rescue Centre carried out a full refurbishment of the vulture aviary in attempt to improve the conditions for the birds. Apparently these efforts did not go in vain - this is the first year the female allowed the male to mount her. In addition to that, the two birds are meticulously furnishing a common nest, even though the female is often upset with her husbands’ arrangements and does throw him out every now and then.

This is a genuine success, we have been preparing for and waiting for eight years. We would like to cordially thank all colleagues from EAZA and VCF for their trust, kind cooperation and support, especially to Dr. Hans Frey and Dr. Alex Llopis.

Green Balkans has been working for improving the conditions and supporting the return of Bearded Vultures since our establishment. Our efforts are motivated by the great success achieved in the Alps and the Pyrenees. Bearded Vultures there have been restore thanks to captive breeding and coordinated release, which have carried out for more than 20 years. The captive breeding is implemented within the Endangered Species programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), currently coordinated by the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF).

 We are looking forward to the next steps towards the return of Bearded Vulture in Bulgaria!

For more information, please contact:
Elena Kmetova
Project manager of the Vultures Return in Bulgaria
Phone: + 359 885 219 557;