Griffon Vulture’s population in Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria remains stable

16 March 2018

Griffon Vulture’s population in Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria remains stable. In February 89 griffon vulture pairs was registered in the Eastern Rhodopes within the regular monitoring of the species, number equal to the previous year. The Rhodope Mountains rewilding area is the only breeding area of the indigenous griffon vulture population in Bulgaria.

In February, the BSPB teams visited all known present and historical localities of the species in the Eastern Rhodopes. From 12–15 February 2015 from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/ BirdLife Bulgaria visited all nesting localities of the griffon vultures in the Eastern Rhodopes. Altogether 73 of the 89 registered griffon vulture pairs are at an incubation stage and the rest are in the process of building their nests. Most of the identified pairs consist of adult birds. In this respect, the indicators are better than last year, when 62 incubating birds were registered and we hope for better breeding success this season,” said Volen Arkumarev, an expert from the BSPB team. There are three more couples in the Greek part of the Rhodopes. Dionysus, an adult Griffon Vulture who has been tagged with a GPS transmitter in Bulgaria, is one of the birds nesting on the Greek side of the mountain this year, noted BSPB.

Thanks to the GPS transmitters, curious behavior of part of the adult birds has also been recorded. During the observation, the team noticed an interesting “diversification” of family life by an elderly female vulture fitted a transmitter. Kibela and her partner are currently sharing a nest in the colony in Madjarovo. This couple is not incubating yet and Kibela often visits the breeding colony near Studen Kladenets Dam, where she was seen copulating with another male, and only a few hours later she had returned to her permanent partner. Griffon Vultures are a colonial species and such behavior is no exception, although they are considered monogamous birds.

The team closely monitors the behavior of other birds equipped with transmittet. Thanks to the information we receive from the transmitters, we also tracked other changes in the “address registration” of a part of the vultures. Unlike the Egyptian Vulture, which usually breeds in the same nest for several consecutive years, the Griffon Vulture often changes its nests and this is confirmed by the information from the transmitters that we have received so far.

For example one of them – Viktor that was nesting on Coban Kaya last year, has chosen another nest about 2 km from the old one this year. The spacious apartment overlooking the Arda River, however, is not empty and this year is occupied by another pair of vultures. Krum, who we’ve been following for two years, has also chosen the variety and replaced the old nest with a new one, a kilometer from the old, but within the same rock complex.

Now following are two months of continuous care, in which both partners will change their only egg, and in April the new generation of Griffon Vultures is expected in Rhodopes.

Vulture Conservation activities in the Eastern Rhodopes are carried out within the LIFE project “Conservation of Black and Griffon Vultures in Rhodope moutains”.

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