This autumn seven more artificial nests will attract black vultures in the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. In 2016 the first three nests for the rare birds were built and are now numbering 10 nests. Black vultures have disappeared from Bulgaria some decades ago. The idea of artificial nests is to attract birds from Dadia National Park in neighboring Greece to settle in the Eastern Rhodopes and gradually rebuild the population.
The only colony of the Black vulture on the Balkans is located in the National Park of the Dadia-Soufli-Lefkimi forest in the Greek part of the Rhodope Mountains, about 25 km from the border with Bulgaria. The concentration of birds in one region, however, increases the risk of extinction. Within the frames of LIFE Vulture project the nests that will be attracting vultures from the neighboring Greece are expected to reach 20.
The nests of black vultures are impressive in size. For the base, a platform with a diameter of 1.50 m is used, and the thickness can reach up to 0.5 m. They are made of natural materials – small branches of trees, also green moss is used in order to be green and more attractive. From next year there will be more “improvements”, some of the branches in the nests will be painted with white paint, which will resemble excrement and will give the nest a natural look. Often the natural nests are also “garnished” with food remains – bones, pellets, fur, etc.
The nests have been placed for the second consecutive year by the team of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB). “Places are selected based on a GIS model including topographical features, vultures’ preferences, forest information, and different scientific publications. “explains Dobromir Dobrev, coordinator of thesteam. Using special methodology, the team identified the target areas for artificial nests providing best nesting conditions.
The nests are made in places frequented by vultures from Greece in search of food in the Eastern Rhodopes. Transmitters show that there is still no data on nesting. “This is not a reason to worry because the period is too short,” explains the expert. Experience shows that at least two seasons should pass before the nest is occupied, at least this is the case with other birds of prey. Each year, the nests will be inspected and repaired in parallel with the construction of the new ones.
The placement of the nests takes place within the framework of a five-year LIFE + Project “Preservation of the Black and Griffon Vultures in the Rhodope Mountains”, developed by Rewilding Europe in partnership with Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, WWF Greece, the vultures and the Greek Ornithological Society. The project aims at restoring and expanding Griffon vulture populations and returning the Black Vulture to this part of the Balkans.