When we were preparing to say that for Dobrogea, 2021 was the year of the flamingos, the end of the year brought us another big surprise. The Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), an extinct species in Romania for more than half a century, has reappeared in Dobrogea. If until this year there were sporadic reports of birds in transit, now is the first time that a Black Vulture chooses to stay longer in Dobrogea.
The Black Vulture is monitored in Dobrogea
The Black Vulture is part of a programme to reintroduce the species to the Balkan Mountains, conducted by Green Balkans Bulgaria and partner organisations.
The bird is monitored in real time with a GPS transmitter that allows specialists to study both the behaviour and condition of the bird.
The Măcin Mountains area, part of the Măcin Mountains National Park, where the vulture chose to stay during this period, is a historic nesting area for this species. 100 years ago, the Black Vulture nested with other now extinct species: the grey eagle, the Egyptian eagle, the Eastern imperial eagle (it nests only in western Romania).
Black Vulture’s Nest in Dobrogea, 1925. Source: Two ornithologists on the lower Danube, H.Kirke Swann, J.H. McNeille, published by Wheldon and Wesley, London, 1925.
The main dangers to the species are related to the risk of collision with wind turbine blades, the risk of electric shock on medium voltage poles, poaching and indirect poisoning, by consuming animals killed by poisoning or poisoned baits.
Information about the Black Vulture
The Black Vulture is the largest species of eagle on the European continent. Its wingspan can reach 2.85 m. In Europe, the species is present in Spain, France, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey and Russia, with an estimated number of more than 3,000 nesting pairs, the vast majority being in Spain.
Photo: Cornel Cotorogea, The Black Vulture over the Măcin Mountains, 23.12.2021
It is a necrophagous species, feeding mainly on dead animals, like other species of vultures. Black Vulture act as sanitizers, preventing the spread of diseases by consuming carcasses before they can develop bacteria that can spread diseases and infect other animals or even humans.
About the Green Balkans
Founded in 1988, Green Balkans operates as a non-profit organisation for the conservation of habitats and rare species in Bulgaria. Over the years, it has implemented over 110 projects.
Green Balkans has been coordinating the programme to reintroduce the Black Vulture to the Balkan Mountains since 2015. In 2018, the first specimens were released, and in 2021 they had their first major success, the first nesting in the wild, after 28 years of the last known nesting in Bulgaria. On October 1, 2021, the first Black Vulture hatched in the wild flew out of its nest.
The article was written with the support of Simeon Marin Fieldwork Coordinator, LIFE14 NAT/BG/649 Green Balkans, Bulgaria and Cornel Cotorogea, a passionate ornithologist.