Griffon and bearded vultures in Spain


This video is about Manuel’s vulture restaurant in Santa Cilia, Spain.

After 3 November, 4 November 2014 in Aragon in Spain.

We went to the Sierra de Guara, the mountains south of the highest Pyrenees summits. It is a beautiful area; flowers like edelweiss grow there.

Sierra de Guara sign, 4 November 2014

All photos on this blog post are cellphone photos.

We went to see a vulture restaurant on a mountain above Santa Cilia village which has been going for decades.

On our way to Santa Cilia, we passed a hunting estate. We could see red deer, fallow deer and mouflons.

Santa Cilia village, 4 November 2014

In Santa Cilia there are beautiful old houses.

The vulture restaurant above the village has been organized for thirty years by Manuel; from the Amigos del buitre, friends of the vultures, organisation. A young woman, responsible for the organisation’s museum in Santa Cilia, helps him today.

The organisation has started a restaurant for vultures in Gambia as well.

As the sun begins to shine, griffon vultures spread their wings to dry them. It had been raining all night, making their wings wet.

Griffon vultures, 4 November 2014

A small trailer brings 100kg of slaughterhouse offal to the mountain. About 20 kg of this is meat for the griffon vultures; much is bones. Today, there are about eighty vultures. So, on average, each vulture gets about 225g meat. So, the vulture restaurants help the vultures; but they still have to find more food elsewhere.

This video is about the vulture restaurant on 4 November 2014.

Manuel tells that the griffon vultures, coming closest to him, eating out of his hand, are birds which he used to care for when they were ill.

While the griffon vultures are feeding, one bearded vulture, later two, circles above them. They don’t like to join the griffon vulture crowds. If they wait till the griffon vultures have stripped the meat from the bones, they can pick up the bones. Then, they will drop the bones from the air on rocks, breaking them. This way, they can get their favourite food: bone marrow. It takes young bearded vultures a long time to learn how to drop the bones in the right way.

Two ravens, and two golden eagles flying. Sometimes, these species join the griffon vultures for feeding. Today, they don’t seem to be hungry.

Griffon vultures mate for life, Manuel says. If one bird’s partner dies, then that vulture will not breed for some years. They also usually await their turn during feeding. Sometimes they quarrel. Maybe in wildlife films, quarrels among vultures while feeding are over-emphasized, as they look more spectacular in the film.

Sierra de Guara view, 4 November 2014

From the vulture restaurant, a beautiful view of the surroundings.

Later that day, we go to a reservoir. Two little grebes swimming.

A female siskin along the road.

A bit further, we have the privilege to see a wallcreeper again. It cleans its feathers.

In a park, we hear a great spotted woodpecker. Goldfinches in a tree.

Adults of Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) observed in the Theniet El Had National Park (northern Algeria) in springs of 2012 and 2014: here.

30 thoughts on “Griffon and bearded vultures in Spain

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