At least 4 new pairs of bearded vultures found in the French Alps this year

This image of a Bearded Vulture by Antoine Rezer

With the breeding season in full swing, preliminary data about the bearded vulture population in the French Alps is very encouraging – observers suggest there are at least 4, possibly 5 new pairs in the French Alps, when compared with last year.

In Haute-Savoie the 4 traditional pairs are now incubating, but there are two new pairs, one at Passy – the pair built two nests, but there is still no incubation, and the other one at Aravis Sud (Mt Charvi – col de l’Arpettaz).

In Savoie the situation is also encouraging – two of the 4 established pairs (Termignon and Peisey-Nancroix) are incubating, while egg laying is expected any moment at Val d’Isère and Bessans – while a fifth, new pair has installed itself at Bourg saint Maurice and is incubating!

Considering that there could also be a new pair in the Parc National de Mercantour, this means the French Alps may see this year 4 new pairs – precisely in the area where the LIFE GYPHELP project – aiming to enhance the bearded vulture population – is taking place.

This is the most critical period of the year for the breeding birds, and it is now important to minimise disturbance around the nests. French NGOs and the National Parks have been publishing maps to restrict some outdoor activities that can have a negative impact on the birds, notably alpinism, ice climbing, wing suit jumping, parapente, and other activities.

Very soon our partners ASTERS (Conservatoire d´Espaces Naturels de Haute-Savoie) is organising on the 20th February a simultaneous monitoring day, from 10:00 to 14:00, from safe points near all the nests. In this count all the pairs will be controlled, including their breeding status, and movements of the adults. If you live in the area and would like to help, please contact Etienne Marlé ( until the 17th February.

This article was first published by the Vulture Conservation Foundation 16 February 2016

Bearded vultures in the Alps – Update on the breeding season 2015/2016: lots of new pairs established!

It is a very encouraging start into this year’s bearded vulture Alpine breeding season, with a record number of occupied territories and many new couples in formation.

During this winter, a total of 37 breeding pairs/trios have been observed nesting, and 28 clutches have already officially been recorded. Of these, 8 are new pairs recently established in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps. Moreover, other preliminary reports hint to possibly 3 additional newly colonized territories, 1 in the Eastern Alps (Austria) and 2 in the South-Western Alps, one of which is probably composed by sub-adult birds. If this information is confirmed, it would raise the total number of breeding units in the Alps to 39. This is the highest number of reproductive birds since the reintroduction of the Bearded Vultures in the Alps, and makes us hope for a season at least as productive as last year.

In the winter of 2014/2015 a total of 33 pairs/triplets in reproductive age have been observed nesting and resulted in the record number of 20 fledglings. Of last year’s breeding pairs two are unfortunately not breeding this year. One of these cases was recorded in the North-Western Italian Alps where the couple interrupted the nesting activity probably due to disturbance by military exercise, whereas the second case was observed in the Austrian Eastern Alps where one bird disappeared.

We will keep you posted!

Comments are closed.