During the breeding season 2014-15, when the first breeding success occurred in the Andalusia bearded vulture reintroduction project, a second pair was observed in a territory at the Sierras of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas. Although the birds were very young (the male was born in 2010 and the female in 2012), some matting attempts and nest reconstructing could already be observed that year.
Curiously, the pair is formed by siblings hatched and reared by the Guadalentín bearded vulture specialized captive breeding center, managed by the Junta de Andalucía. Both birds showed the common movement patterns registered with birds released in Andalusia: in the following spring after releasing they started their dispersal behavior visiting Sierra de Gredos, in central Spain, but as soon as the autumn started birds flew back to the release area where the stay the whole winter.
The male, named “Hortelano”, showed that pattern for three consecutive years, and in September 2013, when the female “Marchena” did her first dispersal, both travelled back to the Sierras of Cazorla with only 2 weeks difference. Since then they didn’t leave the Andalusia mountains.
The pair has reconstructed an old nest from an historical bearded vulture territory, which was used until the middle of the past century. “Marchena” will be 5 years old next February – quite young for breeding – but there is some hope that this young pair will do the same as “Blimunda”, the female from the first pair, which was also very young at the time of first breeding – see video here>>
This second pair has been followed closely by Dr. Francisco Javier Montoro García, which has been documenting the different phases of pair – see film above.
The excellent news about the first breeding in the wild last year in the Andalucia reintroduction project has been partially overshadowed by the three losses that happened this year, because of poison – this after 5 years without any bearded vulture mortality. The illegal use of poisoned baits is the main threat for the Andalusia project. The Junta de Andalusia has now announced a number of additional measures to fight this threat, and we hope we can again mitigate this threat to see further successes in the project to restore this magnificent species in the Andalusian mountains.
Photos: Francisco Montoro
This article was first published by the Vulture Conservation Foundation December 2016