First days in the wild of the released Egyptian vultures from the adaptation aviary in the Eastern Rhodopes


On May 15, a team of the LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE" opened the doors of the adaptation aviary in the Eastern Rhodopes where three young Egyptian vultures spent nearly two months. The birds are called Fer (donated by the zoo in Jerez, Spain), Andi (donated by the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria) and Sharka (donated by the Zoo Zlin in the Czech Republic). All three vultures are tagged with GSM transmitters to track their movements after the release.

Sharka first left the aviary after opening the doors, followed by Fer and finally Andi. Andi settled in the area of the feeding station, and a few hours later he started feeding at it. Since then he is visiting the feeding station regularly and roosting on the cliff. Fer settled on the same cliff near the station and for the first few days, he was busy mastering the art of flying by making short circles around the rocks and hanging with other Egyptian vultures and Ravens in the area. Five days after the release, he also began feeding at the feeding station which was an important step forward towards the successful adaptation in the wild. Fer and Andy are now spending a few hours there every day and the rest of the time they are just flying or resting on the rocks and socializing with the other inhabitants of the area – Griffon Vultures, Black Kites, Crows, Ravens, other Egyptian Vultures and Cinereous Vultures. They still do not move too far away from the releasing site but are quickly gaining confidence and improving their flight abilities.

Sharka was the most skillful flyer, and after leaving the aviary he moved 1.5 km from the release site and settled on a steep rocky slope with a perfect view towards the feeding station. In the early days after the release, he also practiced flying and even was attacking adult Egyptian vultures that were passing over his area. Unfortunately, on the third night of freedom, he was assaulted and killed, probably by a fox, and in the morning a team of the project found his body. Predator attacks cause mortality to wild young Egyptian Vultures as well, especially in the first days after fledging when the birds do not have enough experience.

The next few months will be very important and intense for Andi and Fer who will face all the challenges of the life in the wild. They have to build confidence and experience before facing the ultimate challenge for every young Egyptian Vulture – the first autumn migration to Africa! We expect Fer and Andi to grow stronger and to explore the Eastern Rhodopes in the coming weeks. We will be always around to assist if they need our help.

Anyone can track their movements here.

The three vultures were hatched the last year and are part of an experimental program with the aim to find the best approach for the purposes of a future restocking program for the Balkan population. The birds were released by the delayed release method. The activity is being carried out under the LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE", which brings together institutions and organizations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East, and Africa. The four young Egyptian Vultures have been donated to the project with the assistance of Anton Vaidl - coordinator of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP) of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).