Bird of the Month – November 2019

Griffon Vulture
Feeding areas have helped to increase populations.

We are extremely fortunate to have our common giant of the skies, Griffon Vulture, present throughout our region. Who couldn’t be impressed by seeing this huge raptor soaring overhead in large flocks, using updraughts and thermals as they effortlessly cruise Andalucía skies.

A Survey of Griffon Vultures in Andalucía, carried out in 2018, found the population increasing throughout the region.

A growth rate of around 3 percent since 1999 in the population of Griffon Vultures has now seen an increase to 3,339 breeding pairs across the Spanish region of Andalucía. The survey was carried out by the government of the autonomous region, Junta de Andalucía’s Ministry of Environment and Territorial Planning.

Griffon Vulture
The giant of our skies with a wingspan of 2.8 meters and can weigh up to 8 kilos

The population shows an 11 percent increase compared to a survey carried out in 2014, showing a steady growth rate of 4 percent since that survey was carried out.

Across the region the Griffon Vulture is present in all provinces and across all the regions the species has shown an increase with the exception of Cordoba. Cádiz has the highest number of pairs accounting for two thirds of the Andalusian population. Favouring the rocky outcrops of the region’s mountain ranges, colonies of the species have been found primarily in the westernmost tip of the Penibética mountain range (Alcornocales, Sierra de Grazalema, Serrania de Ronda, Strait of Gibraltar and Zaframagón) as well as the central and eastern Sierra Morena and the Subbética mountain range.

Griffon Vulture
Always a thrill to see these giants cruise our skies

Spain is home to 75 percent of the world’s population of Griffon Vultures and 90 percent of all Griffon Vultures in Europe are found in Spain. The population in Spain has grown rapidly over the last 40 years when in 1979 it was estimated that there were around only 3,249 breeding pairs in the whole of the country. Today that figure is considerably higher with around 25,000 pairs in Spain, a growth that has been attributed to conservation actions such as tackling poisoning and mitigating threat of collision with electrical infrastructure as well as providing safe food for birds at designated vulture feeding stations.

Source. Vulture Conservation Foundation 28.01.2019

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