The breeding season of the Bearded Vultures at the Wildlife Rescue Centre has begun!

The breeding season of the Bearded Vultures at the Wildlife Rescue Centre has begun!

The pair has an extremely interesting story. The birds are owned by the vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) and are a part of the European Endangered Species Programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). The aim of the programme is to create a captive stock of breeding pairs in various zoos and breeding centres throughout Europe and release the captive-born chicks within coordinated reintroduction projects.

Thus, in 2008 the Wildlife Rescue Centre received a pair of young birds from the Austrian Richard Faust Breeding Centre. Since then the pair has been living in a common aviary, showing polite ignorance to each other. Only last year (2012) we observed mating behavior for the very first time, as the two birds were constructing… two separate nests.

Nowadays, October 2013 we started seeing the first signals of mutual tolerance and chances of a future family.
The female eagerly takes pieces of wool and twigs for constructing a nest and allows the male to come closer and spent the night near the nesting platform. Vultures typically start breeding before the rest of the birds as they find most food for their chicks in spring, while the domestic and wild animals give birth.

Furthermore, Bearded Vultures start breeding in captivity after their eight year, so it is not really a surprise that these are the very first modest attempts for forming a pair. The two vultures are under constant surveillance not only by the staff of the Centre, but also by international experts in the field - Dr. Hans Frey and Alex Llopis.

At present, the pair is maintained within the Vultures Return in Bulgaria LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 Project.

Despite being the symbol of Bulgarian nature conservation, Bearded Vultures have gone extinct from Bulgaria. The last bird was found poisoned in the area of the Sinite kamani NP in the 1970s. At the same time Bulgarai is among the very first countries which succeeded with captive breeding, with the Sofia Zoo maintaining an active breeding pair between 1916-1927.

We hope to be the second institution in Bulgaria managing to produce chicks from this extremely rare and beautiful species.
We are keeping our fingers crossed and we are looking forward to seeing what the young pair will do!

You can see footage of our young female collecting nesting material here:

And here you can follow a really interesting ritual - Bearded Vultures hatch with white chest, yet are not too fond of this colour and thoroughly colour themselves in mud. Check footage of the morning bath of our female:

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