Griffon Vultures in Algarve.jpg

Griffon Vultures in Algarve


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THE ALGARVE has seen an unusual number of Griffon Vultures ending their migration journey to the African continent.

The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, in Olhão, has rescued and is treating a total of 31 birds, but authorities say the number might be higher.

The birds have been spotted and rescued from unusual locations, like the top of a tree in one of the main avenues of Faro city and at landfill sites since the beginning of November.

According to Daniel Santos, the co-ordinator of Centro de Recuperação de Aves, the birds rescue and treatment centre of Ria Formosa Natural Park, the Griffon Vultures that were found “are juveniles and there is a strong possibility that they will never get back to the migration route”.

Heading for Africa

They come from Northern and Central Europe heading for Africa, where they are supposed to spend the cold periods, before returning to Europe in the spring.

The recovery period of the birds rescued is expected to end just after Christmas and Daniel Santos told The Resident that the centre team is “now studying the best location to release them“.

“We haven’t decided yet if they will be released in Vila Velha de Rodão or in the Alcaria hills in the Natural Park of the Guadiana Valley at a migrating birds dormitory that exists there,” he said.

Daniel Santos said that the birds are recovering very well and that the centre had  great help from local supermarkets who provided them with meat.

“Since these are necrophagous birds, it’s more difficult to feed them as opposed to other birds,” he said.

Each vulture eats about one kilogramme of meat every day and weighs around nine kilogrammes. Those found in the Algarve all weighed around six kilogrammes.

It is thought that difficulties in finding food plus the strong and unusual winds from the south east, due to the high temperatures of this autumn, is affecting the birds’ migration route, which would explain the reasons for the vultures diverting to the Algarve. The species is not found in the region in significant numbers, despite it being the last European frontier for thousands of migrating birds.

According to the official figures from the Natural Park, since the recovery centre opened in 1989, the largest number of Griffon Vultures registered was 12, which happened last year.

“The annual average is a maximum of four of these birds each year,” said Daniel Santos.

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