The migratory flyway through the eyes of the tagged Egyptian vultures


September. The time has come for us to say our farewells to the Egyptian vultures as they depart to their winter grounds in Africa. Some of them have traveled those thousands of kilometers many times, but for the fledglings, it will be a new and dangerous rite of passage. Their first flights from the nest were observed closely by researchers and volunteers from “The Return of the Neophron” LIFE+ project and we wanted to reach out and help the birds through their journey to Africa.

That is why, in the last few years, we placed satellite transmitters on 18 young vultures (8 in Bulgaria, 7 in Greece, 2 in FYR of Macedonia, and 1 in Albania) and 2 adult vultures (in Greece). The number of the tagged juvenile birds was enough to help us analyze their migration flyway, wintering grounds and the causes of death in the first two years of their life (you can find more information HERE). But the two tagged adults were not sufficient to provide empirical conclusions regarding usage of the nesting territories, migration and mortality in adult birds. This year we managed to place satellite transmitters on three more adult Egyptian vultures (1 in Greece on a bird from southern Albania; 2 in Bulgaria).

At this time, out of all the tagged juveniles only three continue to transmit a signal. Unfortunately some of the others died while some stopped sending data of their whereabouts. The satellite transmitter of Volen, which was tagged in 2012 in Northern Bulgaria didn’t broadcast from 29 September 2014; the last data from the transmitter is from Central Egypt. Lefkipos - tagged in 2012 in Dadia, Greece, didn’t broadcast from 26.01.2015 from Sudan - on the border with South Sudan.

Dobromir, tagged with a satellite transmitter in 2012, spent the summer in his birth place – Northern Bulgaria and then successfully migrated to Sudan. Dobri spent the last winter season in a wide territory covering Afar and Southern Sudan.

Sanie, tagged in 2013, returned to Chad after spending the summer in Turkey.

Ilyaz, tagged in 2012, is in Chad and is the only one of the tagged juveniles that never left Africa after its first migration from the Balkans (three years already).

The adult Egyptian vultures tagged with satellite transmitters are four. In 2014 Lazarus died after feeding on a poisoned bait for the second time.

Boris and Jenny – the two adult vultures from the same region in Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria, which we tagged this year, reached their wintering grounds after traveling together to Syria. There they separated and Jenny headed for Chad while Boris flew to Ethiopia.

Aoos – tagged this spring, traveled from Southern Albania to Chad and is now close to Jenny.

Castor – hatched and ringed in Madzharovo region in 2010, and tagged with a transmitter in 2014 returned to Ethiopia for a second consecutive year after spending the summer season in the Eastern Rhodopes region on the border between Bulgaria and Greece.

Interestingly Boris and Castor are wintering together in the Afar region – the area with one of the largest aggregations of the species in Africa.

You can find more information about the movements of the tagged Egyptian vultures here.

Useful information
Where is B14?

Where is B14?

The breeding performance of the Egyptian Vulture population in Bulgaria is among the highest in Europe

The breeding performance of the Egyptian Vulture population in Bulgaria is among the highest in Europe