Another Egyptian vulture with a mission to help its species through an experimental method

Another Egyptian vulture with a mission to help its species through an experimental method

A team of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and Green Balkans placed a young Egyptian vulture on the 10th of July in a hack at the supplementary feeding station in the Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria. The bird was hatched in May in the Wildlife Rescue Center in Stara Zagora and is part of the experimental restocking program of the LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE" to strengthen the Balkan population of the species.

We remind you that the male from the parents' couple was given for the project's purpose by the Sofia Zoo.

In the hack (artificial nest), the vulture will prepare for life into the wild and will be released at the end of July. The team tagged the bird with GPS/GSM transmitter, which will give information about its adaptation to the wild and its movements during the first migration. Currently, the project team regularly places food and water unnoticed by the vulture and monitors its behavior through an online video camera.

"Hacking” is a term used in conservation biology for the active management of a population and represents the placement of young captive-bred birds in an artificial nest where they will get used to the area and take it as if it was their natural home, gaining wild bird behavior.

The method is applied for the third consecutive year, but in 2020 we use a new facility. We used an abandoned Egyptian vulture nest adapted as a hack in the last two years and this summer the aviary on the feeding station has been specially rebuilt into a hack - part of it is separated as a nesting chamber, covered with wool and resembles a natural vulture nest. The previous hack no longer provides the necessary conditions for the implementation of the method - there are no longer enough pairs of Egyptian vultures nearby to feed and thus help in the adaptation of the birds. The location of the current hack allows the young bird to get used to the other Egyptian and Griffon vultures that feed there regularly, the local conditions and after its release will be able to easily navigate itself and find food.
This aviary is used every spring to carry out another of the methods, part of the experimental program - the delayed-release. Three birds were released this year through this method.

In addition to the methods of delayed-release and the hacking, this year the method “fostering” will be implemented for the third time. Тhe method represents the placement of captive-bred chicks in wild nests with foster parents. This year, two wild pairs are selected as foster parents, because we expect two juveniles for adoption - one hatched in the Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Center and the other in the Prague Zoo.

The activity is part of a 5-year experimental program for active management of the critically endangered Egyptian Vulture population in the Balkans in order to increase the breeding success and survival of the young individuals. It is carried out by a team of BSPB and Green Balkans within the framework of the LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE", which brings together institutions and organizations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East, and Africa.