Bearded vulture continues its comeback in Switzerland, association confirms
One of the rarest and most awe-inspiring birds found in Switzerland, the bearded vulture is continuing to make its comeback. The extremely rare species, previously hunted to extinction in the alpine nation, had a record number of offspring in 2023, officials have revealed.
Record number of bearded vultures born in Switzerland
According to the Pro Bearded Vulture Foundation, bearded vulture pairs successfully raised 25 young in 2023, a new record for Switzerland. For the first time since their reintroduction in 1986, young were raised in Canton Ticino alongside their more popular homes in Graubünden and Valais - although one pair is known to nest in Canton Bern.
With a wingspan of 2,6 metres and weighing up to 7 kilograms, the bearded vulture is the largest bird native to the country and is known to make its nests in the Swiss mountains. Unfortunately, before 1900, the bird was also known by the names Rossgyr (horse vulture) and Lämmergeier (lamb vulture), as farmers were under the false assumption that the birds were responsible for killing livestock as large as horses - today we know that they only eat animals that are already dead.
Bearded vulture returned to Switzerland after regional extinction
As a result, the Bearded Vulture was hunted to extinction in Switzerland, France, Austria, Germany, Italy and southern Europe. A total of 163 bearded vultures were reintroduced across Swiss cantons in 1986, although it took until 2007 until the first young were born in Switzerland.
Speaking to Watson, the foundation said that the successful reintroduction of the birds is of “great international importance,” given their decline in other parts of the world. While they are making a slow comeback in Switzerland and are populous in Ethiopia, Iran, Turkey and the Asian Steppe, the bearded vulture remains critically endangered or extinct across most of Europe and North Africa.