As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Rüppell's Vulture breeding with Griffon Vulture at two Spanish sites

New evidence suggests two cases of a Rüppell's Vulture breeding with a Griffon Vulture in Spain. In two different Griffon Vulture breeding colonies in Spain, one pair was observed copulating, and in the other, an adult Rüppell's Vulture was collecting nesting material.

Rüppell's Vulture
The Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppelli) is an African species whose distribution range is located in the equatorial and eastern areas of the continent. It resembles our Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), especially the juveniles and immature birds, being slightly smaller in size. The IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species considers it Critically Endangered, which is the last category before global extinction, due to the rapid declines of several populations across Africa.

its declining state is mostly due to the successive and frequent mass poisonings in Africa, which are driving several species of African vultures to extinction. The Vulture Multi-species Action Plan (Vulture MsAP), co-developed by us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation, and endorsed by the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS), concludes that poison is the biggest threat to vultures worldwide, and a significant part of this global action plan for vultures focuses on the actions needed to fight this threat. Unfortunately, experts foresee a rather bleak future in the short term if poisoning events keep occurring at this rate.

Rüppell's Vulture in Europe
In consequence, Rüppell's Vultures are becoming alarmingly scarce in Africa but, surprisingly, they are increasingly seen in Europe. This is probably due to increased mixings of individuals of this species with wintering juvenile Griffon Vultures in West Africa. A percentage of Europe's growing population of Griffon Vultures winters in the Sahel zone of West Africa, where it will encounter some Rüppell's Vultures. When European Griffons start their migration north, they probably drag some African vultures with them, and with plenty of food in Europe, they are beginning to call our continent home. The species was recently added to Andalucía's list of vultures, making it Europe's 5th vulture species and one of the most threatened bird species in Spain.

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