The LIFE + ‘Bearded Vulture Network’ project makes progress with the birth of three chicks of the species in the Breeding Center Zaragoza
Benía de Onís (Asturia), 28 March 2014
Three Bearded Vulture chicks, of the 2013-2014 season, were born at the Center for Breeding in Human Isolation (CRIAH) in Pastriz (Zaragoza), owned by the Government of Aragon and managed by the Foundation for the Conservation of the Bearded Vulture FCQ. These three were born from eggs rescued from nests located in high risk places in the Aragonese territory of the Pyrenees (Huesca), and are part of the actions envisaged in the European project LIFE + ‘Bearded Vulture Network’. A program of large-scale inter-regional cooperation that aims to create a new population nucleus for the species – declared ‘in danger of extinction’ – in this area of the Cantabrian Mountains, and that is funded by the European Commission, regional governments of Aragon , Asturias and Castilla y León, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
The first chick born, called H1, reached the CRIAH on January 24 , and hatched on 27th of February after 53 days of incubation. With a birth weight of 142.6 grams, today after 25 days it is experiencing a proper development.
The other two arrived on 23 January at the CRIAH from a nest in an environment of very poor condition. Chick H2 hatched on March 4, after about 50 days of incubation, of which 40 in the CRIAH. It weighed 145’9 g at birth. Today after 20 days it also shows a correct development. Chick H3, last born, is from a small egg and until last week had a somewhat delayed development, apparently with its viability compromised. Finely it hatched on March 8 weighing 128.13 g only after about 50 days of incubation. Today it is 16 days and still gaining weight in the incubator until it iproves to be thermostable and can pass to its first nest .
In the CRIAH these birds – donated by the government of Aragón for release in the Picos de Europa in the context of the said project LIFE + – are raised by puppet parents to induce natural imprint isolated from human influence, enabling them to a later life in freedom. Once the chickens have acquired adequate development at approximately 30 days old, they will be transferred to artificial nests installed in the National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido for a period two months for their behavioral acclimatization in the presence of Bearded Vultures in freedom. This process is known as ‘ hacking ‘ or upbringing in the field and will then continue in the National Park Picos de Europa, where they will be transported at about 90 days of age and remain in another adapted platform until their final release , thus becoming part of the wild stock of the species.
The LIFE + ‘Bearded Vulture Network’ project will be implemented until 2018, anticipating the release of 3 to 6 individuals of the species per year, which may mean the arrival of 30 new Bearded Vultures to the Picos de Europa. The ultimate goal is the stable establishment of the species in the area, thus enabling the maintenance of a metapopulation that favors a continuous flow and exchange of individuals with the Pyrenean population through the Iberico-Cantabrian corridor. Thus widening its range and helping to reduce the risk of extinction of the species, as the only wild population of the species in the world, representing 85% of the world population, is concentrated in the Pyrenees.