Dear mr. Max Muster!

Just like our school-children bearded vultures have already started into their next season. Now it is a good time to watch the vultures in display flights, sitting together and grooming and building up their nests with branches and wool. This is one of the reasons, why the International Bearded vulture Observation Days are placed in this time of the year. Besides, the weather conditions are rather stable compared to the often unpredictable summertime. And so autumn brings also joyful expectations at least to the passionate observers of bearded vultures.

Lots of beautiful encounters with bearded vultures

Andreas Schwarzenberger and Richard Zink

The International Observation Days (IOD) are coming up soon and after an excellent breeding season (see next topic) and the release of another 8 young bearded vultures in the Alps and the corridor region the chances are rather promising to see a bearded vulture or even more than one these days. The focal date was chosen during the meeting in Goldau (Switzerland) for Saturday the 12th of October. The buffer period is including the days from 11th to 20th of October, this is more than a week to give all interested people the chance to participate in this international event. On the other hand it means more flexibility in case the weather during the weekend of the focal date is not favourable, so the following weekend could also be used ---> Please note that for the statistics it is important to stick to this core date of the 12th October (including 1 day before and after). The 19th of October can be accepted only as an alternative if the weather conditions on the 12th are too unsuitable for observations AND the IBM team has decided to change the date in advance.
Picture: © Hans-Martin Kochanek

Coordinate System to be used!
Please use the Coordinate System WGS84, which is a very commonly used system, e.g. in Google Earth (for more details please look here). It will help to get a quicker overview on the data in order to present first results at the Annual Meeting in Rhêmes-Saint-Georges, Aosta/ Italy. Please make sure you send the results as soon as possible after the count to the IBM administration.

For further information on the procedure of the IOD please have a look at and use the online protocols:

Observation Days:
Form for Coordinators:
Form for Observers:

After a year with declining reproduction figures, 2013 has presented a new record in the history of the reintroduction project. 16 young bearded vultures have fledged in the wild. This is double the number of released birds (8) in this year! But not only the number of fledglings is higher than ever before, also the number of reproductive couples has been rising. 25 to 26 pairs/trios have started with incubation, 1 pair did not start breeding at all this year. There have been 4 to 5 young couples (with one subadult partner) starting their first breeding attempt. One in the Swiss region of the Upper Engadine has even been successful to raise a chick until fledging!

These have been the successful territories in 2013:

Another 11 couples have failed in their breeding attempt or did not start with incubation. In two cases one or even several additional subadult or adult birds have caused disturbance at the nest site with the consequence of a breeding failure:

Apart from the above mentioned pairs and trios there are again several new pairs in formation that might start breeding in the upcoming season. In the Tyrolean part of the National Park Hohe Tauern a switch of pair partners has taken place. Pinzgarus (Rauris 2008), partner of Escalero (Fusch 2005) in Mallnitz in 2012, changed to the Gschlöß where he is now paired with an unknown, adult female resident in this area for a while. In the upper Ötztal (Tirol, Austria) a pair consisting of an immature and an adult bird was observed already in 2011/2012. During the last year observations got less, but in 2013 again two birds (1 adult, 1 subadult) appeared regularly in the area. Not far away on the southern side of the Alps, 2 adult/subadult bearded vultures could be observed in springtime in the Passeiertal (South Tyrol/Italy), even with copulation. But no further information about a breeding attempt is known. The pair Foscagno has dissolved in the last winter. Only 1 bird remained in the territory. During springtime a subadult bird has been observed together with an adult and they might form a new pair. In the Italian Val di Cogne (Aosta region) several young birds have been observed in springtime. Maybe also here is a new pair in formation. In Vanoise NP regular observations of adult and subadult birds give a hint for possible new pairs in the area. The next months will give a chance to discover and confirm new territories. We are curious how many pairs are going to breed in the upcoming season!

Bernd is back in the Swiss Alps

© Markus P. Stähli
After an adventurous journey through middle Europe, Bernd has been recaptured on the 2nd July in a stone quarry in Eastern Germany close to the Polish border. Czech collegues took care of her in the Zoos of Prague and Liberec. On the 28th August it was about to bring the young, recovered bird back to Switzerland and to re-release it close to its original release site in Calfeisen. Since then Bernd moved around very little in the area, possibly a reaction to the long, desperate journey in spring. At the moment Bernd´s GPS-transmission does not work, so we are very grateful for communication of observations of this bird!
Follow Bernd´s tracks here.

Annual Bearded Vulture Information Meeting 2013

The upcoming Annual Meeting of the European Bearded Vulture Conservation Associations is taking place on the weekend 9th – 10th of November 2013. It will be hosted in the community of Rhêmes-Saint-Georges, Regione Valle d´Aosta, Italy. On Monday the 11th of November the IBM Steering Committee will meet in conclave to work on important topics concerning questions of conservation and the future of the reintroduction project.
Please have a look at the VCF homepage for further information and registration!

Second release in Grands Causses

On the 6th of June the second release took place in the Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses in the South of France. This year only two birds could be released. Everything was fine and the young males took off for their first flight almost exactly 1 month after the release. Both birds were flying very well. But at the end of July a storm brought the young bearded vultures terrible problems. Dourbie was pushed into a narrow valley and did not realise the power lines crossing the valley. Unfortunately the bird died after collision with one of the cables. Layrou also got into troubles, but managed to survive although he kept a limping leg for a while. He was still able to feed and got better soon.
The two bearded vultures released last year are still outside Grands Causses. Cardabelle is still in the Pyrenees and Basalte is staying in the area of the North-Western Alps.
Follow the tracks of the Bearded vultures of Grands Causses on www.rapaces.lpo.fr.
Picture: © Sebastien Pernet

For information about the birds released in the Alps have a look at:
Bearded vultures on the move
Parc naturell règional du Vercors
PN Mercantour
NP Hohe Tauern - Bartgeier online

Again high lead levels in bones discovered

In May the remains of a dead bearded vulture were found in a forest clearing in Carinthia, Austria. Thanks to one ring it could be identified as BV465 Doraja, released in NP Hohe Tauern in 2005. The female had been recaptured in her first year because of lead poisoning, but could be re-released 8 months later. Now the bird is dead and the analyses show high lead levels in the bones (38,9 mg/kg). Nevertheless it remains unclear if the bird died from intoxication. At least the location of the remains might lead to the conclusion that the bird did not die from a natural cause. A similar situation happened with BV557 Ikarus, intoxicated in December 2008, released in June 2009 again and discovered dead in November 2009. The lead values in the bones of Ikarus reached 58,9 mg/kg.
Picture: © Michael Knollseisen

New articles on lead free ammunition
In the last year several symposia on lead free ammunition have taken place in Italy. The articles are now available on the homepage of the Regione Emilia-Romagna (in Italian language).
Find here the programme of 2012 and the links for the

1st symposium

2nd symposium

3rd symposium

as well as the 2013 update on new scentific evidence of lead ammuniton for sustainable solutions.

IBM Annual Report 2012

The Annual Report 2012 is now available with lots of information on general observations, results of telemetry, the releases and results of reproduction in 2012, as well as losses and threats for the project.

Latest Vulture News
For the latest information on other vulture species in Europe read more in the Infos Vautours 2013 N°9 Septembre.

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