October 08, 2012

New findings on Cinereous Vulture

Sanctuary publication details the movements of the largest Old World vulture

Cinereous vultures feeding. Photo by Camille Concepcion

Download a PDF of the report from the journal Bird Study, located under the SCIENCE tab, in Scientific PublicationsThis article is Hawk Mountain Numbered Contribution 221.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary scientists together with Hawk Mountain Research Associates in Austria, Georgia and Armenia, recently published the results of a four-year study documenting the movements of six young Cinereous vultures that were satellite tracked from their breeding areas in the former Soviet Republics of Georgia and Armenia to wintering grounds as far south as the Arabian Peninsula. The findings were published in British journal Bird Study

The birds, which were fitted with small satellite tracking devices traveled through Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Azerbaijan to reach wintering areas in Saudi Arabia and southern Iran.  Some of the birds overwintered more than 1,500 kilometers from their breeding grounds. 

Although they traveled into many different areas along different routes, five of the birds spent at least one summer or winter in a region in western Azerbaijan, quite close to one another. The work suggests that young Cinereous vultures avoid wetlands, densely vegetated habitats and urban areas in their travels, and that they move mainly through dry, open habitats where better soaring conditions prevail.

The findings highlight the complicated international nature of the species' ecological neighborhoods and will help conservationists in the area better understand and protect the bird, which is the largest of all Old World vultures.