French Griffon Vulture released in Balkan Mountain breeds in Eastern Rhodopes

A Griffon Vulture, released from the area of Kotel, Eastern Balkan Mountains, built its nest in the last remaining vulture colony in the Eastern Rhodopes.

Our colleagues from BSPB found the odd couple during the regular monitoring on the Griffon Vulture colony near Madzharovo, Eastern Rhodopes.

We recognized “our” bird by the blue wing tag with a orange “10” and the green PVC ring B19. This bird hatched in 2007 in the French Bioparc Zoo de Doue was released by Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna in 2009 from the special vulture adaptation aviary in Kotel.

At present the young family is building a nest on Kovan Kaya rock – one of the most important rocks for the Griffon Vultures in the Eastern Rhodopes.

This is the first confirmed case of a bird, released within the programme for restoring the vulture population on the Balkan Mountains, carried out by Green Balkans, FWFF and BPPS, settles in another, natural colony of the species.

Nobody likes to live in an empty block of flats, especially vultures. They are very social birds, which like to have neighbours. This is why, within the Vultures Return in Bulgaria Project, we always release a number of birds and keep some birds in the aviary, to imitate a natural colony and attract the ones we have released. Unfortunately our birds are too young and as every teenager, sometimes they like to stray a long way from home. Thus, in 2010 B19 left the area of Sliven and Kotel and found the natural colony of Griffon Vultures in the Eastern Rhodopes. There our bird fortunately found love. To our surprise, in the spring of 2011 and 2012 B19 managed to persuade the wild vulture to visit its “natal” site in the Balkan Mountains. Despite our hopes that they would turn into the second pair breeding in the area of Kotel, the instinct and experience of the wild vulture overweighed so the young pair returned back to the South, where BSPB reported a total of 56 pairs of Griffon Vultures in 2012.

We are wishing best of luck to the pair and are looking forward to seeing the “response” of the vultures, released in the Balkan Mountains within the LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 project.


Picture and sighting report by Marin Kurtev – BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria