Breeding Cinereous Vultures

Here at the Hawk Conservancy Trust we are fortunate enough to have had Cinereous Vultures in our collection for many years. An iconic vulture and one of the largest we house.

In the wild, Cinereous Vultures have struggled throughout Europe. In the last 200 years they declined significantly across much of their range, and became extinct in seven countries, largely due to poisoning, habitat loss and a reduced food supply. However, reintroduction projects have seen the species return in countries such as France, Portugal and Bulgaria, which is fantastic. In Spain, they have recovered particularly well, where there are now more than 2000 pairs.

With the populations still recovering, Cinereous Vultures are managed throughout various parks, like the Trust, under an EAZA EEP (The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria which runs the European Endangered Species Programme).

Here at the Trust we have three Cinereous Vultures. Delores (who is a firm favourite for many members) and a bonded pair, named Thor and Aldara. These two birds have seen some rather big changes to their home earlier this year and we are hoping that they may breed. It would be a first for us here at the Trust, and contribute to the global population.

The male, Thor, is 32 years old and Aldara, his younger partner, is 21. Both of these birds came to us from Spain and have been paired together since 2017. Whilst we were closed to the public in January, one of our projects included refurbishing the aviary housing Thor and Aldara.

This pair are both quite nervous in character so we had to be careful to ensure we moved them safely before work could begin. A new nest platform and house area was constructed, new perches added, a change of substrate on the ground and we fitted cameras to allow us to monitor their activity. So lots of work! A big thank you to the members who came to help us out on our Members’ Working Day when we moved a LOT of sand into that aviary.

Since completing the work, Thor and Aldara have moved back in and have settled in nicely, taking very well to the alterations. They have been seen (and sometimes heard!) mating and they are now incubating an egg. Our whole team are so excited and are waiting with baited breath. It’s still very early days and more likely that they won’t be successful in their first year but fingers crossed that we’ll be able to share news with you in the next couple of months of a chick!

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