Eurasian Black Vulture nests again in Southern Portugal

Two pairs of Eurasian Black Vulture started nesting in Alentejo (Southern Portugal), using artificial nesting platforms created by the LIFE-Nature project “Habitat Lince Abutre”. This can be the first step for the reestablishment of a breeding colony of this species in the South of Portugal, after several decades without breeding in this region.

These two breeding pairs of Black Vulture were detected as a result of the monitoring by LPN – Liga para a Protecção da Natureza and following the conservation efforts developed by the LIFE project “Habitat Lince Abutre”, concluded in September 2014. The nesting of this Critically Endangered species was possible as a result of the concrete conservation actions implemented under the scope of this project and of the crucial cooperation of the managers of the estate where the nests are located, in Herdade da Contenda.

On a recently monitoring visit, two Black Vulture pairs were detected settling on two of the artificial nests created by this project in Alentejo, having been confirmed that a Black Vulture is incubating on one of these nests as well as the deposition of plant materials on another, thus starting the reestablishment of a breeding colony in Southern Portugal.

After more than forty years without confirmed breeding south of the Tagus River in Portugal, a period during which only a (failed) nesting attempt was registered (about twenty years ago and on the same area), the settling of these two Black Vulture pairs on these artificial nests represents a success of the conservation actions of the LIFE project “Habitat Lince Abutre” and an important milestone for Black Vulture conservation in Portugal.

The Black Vulture restarted breeding in Portugal in 2010 in the International Tagus River region, and is currently nesting only in that area (about 12 breeding pairs) and in the International Douro region (1 breeding pair). The current nesting record in Alentejo can represent the settlement of a third breeding colony in Portugal.

The Herdade da Contenda (Contenda Estate) is owned and managed by the Moura Municipality. It is recognised by its landscape, natural and hunting value, and it is hugely important for the biodiversity conservation and the Natura 2000 of the region.

During the following months, LPN will continue the monitoring of these nests, always in close cooperation with the local managers, expecting that this can become the definite settling of a new breeding colony of Black Vulture in Southern Portugal.

The LIFE-Nature project “Enhancing Habitat for the Iberian Lynx and Black Vulture in the South-east of Portugal” (LIFE08 NAT/P/000227 – “Habitat Lince Abutre”) aimed at contributing for the improvement of the survival and breeding conditions of the Iberian lynx and the Eurasian Black Vulture, both Critically Endangered species in Portugal and with an essential role in the ecosystem, while also benefiting other threatened species. This project was coordinated by LPN (a Portuguese environmental NGO) and had several associated beneficiaries, namely CEAI – Centro de Estudos da Avifauna Ibérica, ANPC – Associação Nacional de Proprietários Rurais, Gestão Cinegética e Biodiversidade, AJAM – Associação dos Jovens Agricultores de Moura, DGAV – Direcção-Geral de Alimentação e Veterinária, ICNF – Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas, and CIS/IUL – Centro de Investigação e Intervenção Social. It also had FFI – Fauna & Flora International and ICNF as co-financers. Implemented between January 2010 and September 2014, this project was co-funded in 75% by the LIFE-Nature Programme of the European Commission.

For further information about the LIFE project “Habitat Lince Abutre” visit:
Artificial nest for Black Vulture Black Vulture at feeding station for scavenger birds Black Vulture photographed during monitoring