Photo: © Emil Iordanov

Every summer, for 11 years in a row, a team of volunteers from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) guards nests of Egyptian vultures in the “fortress” of the species in the Balkans – the Eastern Rhodopes.

The nest guarding minimizes the risk of disturbance, poaching, and accidents on the juveniles’ first flights. In August, when the young birds are learning to fly, the volunteers monitor the nests every day from dawn to dusk to respond immediately to any danger.

Anyone who wants to be a guard of an Egyptian vulture nest should fill out the attached form and send it to the BSPB conservation expert Dr. Vladimir Dobrev () until June 10th.

During the nest-guarding campaign, you will meet up close with one of the rarest birds on the planet and have the opportunity to contribute to its conservation. You choose the period in which you can join – between August 7 and 31. Every morning you will be left at the observation point with binoculars or a spotting scope. When you notice a danger – the fall of the chick from the nest or the disturbance caused by people – you give a signal to the team, which is nearby and reacts immediately. You need to be properly equipped to stay outdoors in nature and charged with patience and attention to the iconic species.

In 2022, 11 volunteers joined the nest-guarding campaign for a total of 94 days and guarded ten of the nests of the emblematic bird. 11 juveniles (48% of the young Egyptian vultures in the area) successfully fledged. In addition to guarding the nests, the volunteers also monitored the two supplementary feeding stations and participated in the seizure of two young Egyptian vultures, which were taken for rearing at the Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Since 2013, more than 100 volunteers from Bulgaria and abroad have participated in the campaign, including people from the UK, Canada, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium, England, France, and the USA. So far, thanks to their indispensable help, ten young birds have been rescued and 108 vultures have successfully left their nests.

The activity is carried out within the project “From Iron Curtain to Green Belt: restoring ecological networks in Southeast Bulgaria”, financed under the Endangered Landscapes Programme (ELP) and is implemented by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), Southeast State Forestry Company (SSFC), Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation (RRF), BirdLife Europe and Central Asia (BLECA).