Griffon Vulture Webcam in Israel

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Re: Griffon Vulture Webcam in Israel

Post by Marbzy »

Hello, Polly!

As long as the egg laid by the disabled female is fertile and hatches successfully, it will be returned to the nest. This information comes from Mr Ygal Miller of Israel Parks and Nature Authority (INPA). The egg may be expected to hatch between 5 and 11 April.

I have no reliable information about last year, but the chick raised by the pair in 2020 (i.e. A90) was an adopted nestling.

This year's procedure is likely to be a repeat of what was done in 2016 (http://zoo.tau.ac.il/eng/content/adopte ... re-chick-0), except that this time round the dummy egg was placed in the nest right after the first (and only) egg was laid. On account of her age (21), it was decided that the female will not be pushed to lay a second egg.

Today, the male completed his first incubation shift, just short of 100 hours. The female, whose first shift lasted a mere 63.5 hours ;) ) started her second shift today (18 February) at 14:31.
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Post by Marbzy »

An update is due from the northern nest: the nestling raised last year by the disabled pair has finally been sighted at the feeding station! The juvenile vulture, wearing white wing tags A90, was spotted today (21 February) between 12:48 and 12:59. Here's a Charter Group Birdcams video showing the bird's visit to the restaurant (the giant bovine of which the youngster tasted was deposited at the station on 20 February):


Who knows, perhaps (s)he will become a regular customer at the Hai-Bar Reserve vulture restaurant - just a stone's throw from where (s)he was raised.

Down in the Negev, it's business as usual. At the moment, it is T99 who is incubating the egg laid by J35 just 11 days ago, but his partner did put in a decent shift earlier in the week.

A side note to finish with: the vulture restaurant has been visited by numerous avian species, large and small. The list includes such birds as the Greater Spotted Eagle, the Eastern Imperial Eagle, the White-Tailed Eagle, the Black Kite, the Egyptian Vulture, the Common Raven, the Hooded Crow (ravens and crows in particular are the most regular of all visitors), the Cattle Egret and a few others. Not only vulture fans are welcome!
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Post by Marbzy »

22 February

A90 did a lot to assert him-/herself at the feeding station this morning. Watch the Charter Group Birdcams video below showing the feisty youngster walk into the restaurant at 8:43 a.m.:


This was part of a much longest stay, which lasted from 07:43 until 09:31. And if that hadn't been enough, the juvenile returned to the station at 13:54 and again spent close to half an hour there. (S)he has definitely not been pestering the foster parents for food.

Dad walked past the nest at least twice today and made a successful trip into the feeding station (you should have seen his crop thereafter), but Mom decided not to use his incubation services. Instead, she has now been incubating the dummy egg for 4 days and 9 hours (that's 105 hours), with just an 11-minute spell spent out of the nest (with an eye on the egg from the wooden stand next to the nest) while food was being delivered at the feeding station two days ago.

Down at Ein Avdat, T99 is currently incubating the marginally older egg.
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Post by Marbzy »

23 February

Having incubated the dummy egg for almost five days (116 hours 41 minutes and 4 seconds, to be exact), the handicapped female finally saw her second shift end. When the male arrived with a beakful of hay at 11:12:30, she greeted him with a few choice grunts, but he just took the reprimand in his stride, gave the egg a good old roll (this included a few fancy footballing techniques), and settled down on it just a minute after the resident lady had closed the door behind her.

Around noon, A90 paid another long visit to the feeding station. As predicted, he's quickly becoming a regular customer there.

Down at Ein Avdat, it is still T99 who is incubating.
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Post by Polly »

...this included a few fancy footballing techniques
Daddys ... :whistling: :rotf:

T90 is very confident.
I wonder ... what caused him to crash in the Mediterranean? It was T90, wasn't it?

Marbzy, did I remember correctly that this form of rickets is inherited?

Isn't it nice to have these teenagers in life now? :innocent:
I don't want to generalize too clumsily, but the first months are very critical for all young animals.

A nice, peaceful subject. To read that disabled animals and their offspring also have a real chance.

Thank you!!! :nod:
"Let nature be your teacher."
(William Wordsworth)
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Post by Marbzy »

24 February

A90 (it's A90, not T90) came back to the feeding station again: in the last four days (s)he has made a total of five trips to the restaurant. I guess (s)he's about to become eligible for discounts ;)

The reserve where A90 was raised is located just a few kilometres from the seashore. It's not known why (s)he ended up floating in the Mediterranean, but the juvenile did not suffer any injuries. Juveniles are not expert flyers. Unlike mature Griffons, youngsters tend to use the flapping techique a lot more (adults rely on the soaring technique most of the time) - the flapping technique is energetically costly, so if a bird is deprived of food for a few days too many and exposed to unfavourable wind conditions, its risk of perishing obviously increases. Some researchers assume that the mortality rate of wild Griffons in their first year may be as high as 70-80%. GPS tracking and other forms of conservation have been shown to bring the rate down. A90 is actually carrying a transmitter, which will hopefully boost his/her chances of reaching adulthood.

Charter Group have confirmed a few times that the form of rickets from which the resident pair suffered as nestlings is not hereditary. In their case, it resulted from a calcium deficit. In the early days of vulture conservation it wasn't obvious that parent birds must provide bone fragments to chicks to supplement their diet of meat.

Down in Ein Avdat, it is still T99 (equipped with a transmitter, too) who is incubating. His shifts seem to have been rather long, but Griffon Vultures have been observed to go without food for well over a week if necessary. There's no reason to worry, in any case.
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Post by Marbzy »

26 February

There has been relatively little activity in the Hai-Bar Reserve nest (the northern nest) in the last two days. Having relieved the female three days ago from her shift after 116.5 hours, he has now been incubating the dummy egg patiently for over 81 hours. He has left the nest during his shift three times for a total time of 2 minutes and 14 seconds in order to chase away other Hai-Bar residents, A60 and J69, upon judging them to have come a bit too close.

The Ein Avdat nest (the Negev nest / the southern nest) has seen a few changeovers in the last couple of days, but first came a mammoth 125-hour shift put in by T99 (the male). The shift began at 6:54 on 20 February and ended at 11:59 on 25 February. Replaced yesterday by J35 (the female), T99 returned to the nest today. The stream is off at the moment, but it was the male who was incubating earlier in the day.

The 125-hour shift appears quite an accomplishment (though probably still well short of a record), but what struck me the most in the video released by Israel Raptor Nest Crew earlier today is J35's behaviour on 20 February. The way she welcomed (?) T99 that day is nearly a carbon copy of the behaviour exhibited by chicks and fledgelings when they want to attract their parents' attention and to make their parents feed them. J35 is obviously not a fledgeling, but a 17-year-old adult female, just like K74 was last year. Not once throughout the entire incubation (or at any other time) did I manage to observe K74 or her partner T49 (or any other Griffon Vulture shown in the various live streams) behave like this. It's nice to be startled from time to time!

Here's the video:
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Post by Marbzy »

4 March

A quick update from the southern nest:


"When exchanging duties at the nest no special behaviour such as greeting or body posture was recorded between the partners apart from the erected scapular feathers of the mates when they met at the nest. The whole process lasted 12 ± 5 sec (range = 3 sec-8 min, n = 54) though partners changed duties many times literally in the air, as the incubating individual abandoned the nest while the other one was still in flight" (Xirouchakis S.M. & Mylonas M. 2007. Breeding ­behaviour­ and ­parental­ care­ in­ the­ Griffon ­Vulture­ Gyps fulvus­ on­ the­ island­ of­ Crete­ (Greece). Ethology Ecology and Evolution 19: 1-26).

Clearly, this J35 is not your ordinary griffon girl!

Something slightly unusual is going on in the northern nest. The male lay down to incubate the dummy egg on 23 February and his shift his still in progress. He's spent a total of ca. 3.5 hours out of the nest in this time either locked up in a cage (last Monday, when maintenance work was being carried out by INPA at the feeding station and around the nest) or chasing away intruders (in 10-second to 2-minute bouts), but the female has not come into the nest since the changeover. That's more than 9 days now. She hasn't shown that much willingness to replace the male, although she did turn up next to the nest at 12:32 today with a beakful of hay (only to drop the hay to the ground and wander off to the feeding station in spite of the interest shown by her partner). She may then have hinted at a changeover again at 14:39, but no, this time the male ignored her. Phew!
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Post by Polly »

That's strange.
Does the female sense that this egg is not a real egg ... no life is being created in it? Or is she weak herself?
Unless there is danger to the male, it is an interesting observation.
It reminds me of the black stork pair last year, Karl II and Kaia. She also disappeared for days and was not interested in the eggs when she returned. He tried on his own, but gave up and buried the eggs.
According to my memory ... but you can follow it here.
https://www.looduskalender.ee/forum/vie ... f=2&t=1021
Any thoughts and possible reasons why females don't care about their brood.

In this case (if the female shows no further effort) I would remove the dummy egg. There is no point in forcing the male to the end of his tether. Or? :rolleyes: But surely the right decisions will be made at any time. The people there are very dedicated.

Thanks for the feedback Marbzy! :nod:
"Let nature be your teacher."
(William Wordsworth)
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Post by Marbzy »

11 March

The resident male's incubation shift in the northern nest came to an end on 7 March, after 12 days 2 hours and 35 minutes. This would be unusual by most standards, but the handicapped pair probably ought not to be likened to any wild living Griffon Vultures (in which shifts longer than 3 days appear to deviate from the norm). They have lived in the Hai-Bar Reserve for many years, they have produced eggs before and they most likely have a rich incubation record. They clearly know their limits, and they seem to be quite aware of the fact that if they really need to pop off to the restaurant next door, it will be there, and it will be well stocked. Having jumped out of the nest, the male took just over two minutes to emerge at the feeding station.

He certainly ate with gusto, and there was nothing e.g. in his movements that could be read as a sign of emaciation or any similar condition. The 12-day fast doesn't seem to have affected his health or stamina in any significant way.

While the male was incubating, the female was keeping an eye on him most of the time (from the top of the wooden stand positioned next to the nest). In the three days which preceded the changeover she repeated offers to relieve him. On one occasion, the male seemed to come up with a hostile reaction (which involved hissing at the female, bending the neck as if he was about to launch his beak at her, and virtually using his body to block entry into the nest). I found this behaviour confusing, I admit. But when 290 hours had passed, he finally responded to yet another offer from the female, jumped out and headed to the feeding station without any fuss.

Any comparisons with the wild living Estonian black stork pair seem unwarranted to me. The BS female may well have been a sub-adult with very little idea of what she was supposed to do. At the age of 21 years, the GV female may have laid one of her last eggs (the dummy egg was placed in the nest to stop her from going through the laying process specifically on account of her age) - she's got vast experience as a mother. Nor would I bring willingness to incubate into it. The handicapped GV female has now herself been incubating the dummy egg (in what is only her third shift since laying her egg exactly four weeks ago) for 4.5 days, and although her partner has already signalled readiness to take over (first he made a brief appearance next to the nest yesterday and then spent over an hour standing next to the nest box today), so far she has not responded to his suggestions.

Down at Ein Avdat, changeovers are much more frequent and fairly regular. The bird in charge of the egg at the moment is T99.
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Post by Marbzy »

17 March

An update from the northern nest (Hai-Bar Reserve, the handicapped pair): the pair have been incubating since the evening of 11 February (34 days, a total of 816 hours). The most recent changeover took place at 09:29-09:30 on 13 March. The male is currently putting in what is only his third shift (and the sixth shift in total). The average incubation shift duration at the moment stands at 136 hours (i.e. 5 days 16 hours). This is a much higher value than reported in literature: in several studies (of both wild and captive Griffon Vulture populations) the mean shift duration was found to be between 0.5 and 2.0 days, though one study carried out in the Caucasus returned a much higher average of 3.7 days (range: 2-6 days). It has been suggested that there is a positive correlation between the mean shift duration and the distance between the nest and the feeding areas. The Hai-Bar Reserve pair could not be given as an example to illustrate such a correlation.

Of the 816 hours of incubation, the male has been "responsible" for 495.75 hours (60.7%), while the female has contributed 320.25 hours (39.3%). It is still relatively early to draw conclusions, but as far as I understand male vultures generally tend to do a larger share of incubation, and the 60%:40% ratio would not be unusual. Incidentally, when the female is incubating, the male tends to stay away from the nest - he only turns up to communicate his readiness to relieve his mate, but he does not spend the nights next to the nest (unlike in the pre-breeding and breeding season, when he would spend most nights either behind the nest or in the nest). But when the male is incubating, the female is generally seated on top of the wooden stand to the right of the nest (incidentally, the male is unable to climb the stand due to his disability), which means that she's keeping an eye on the nest most of the time.

An update from the northern nest (Ein Avdat, the Negev desert): the egg was laid in the late afternoon on 10 February, so it's a mere 26 or so hours older than the egg laid by the handicapped female in Hai-Bar Reserve. The male (T99) has been putting in longer shifts than the female (J35), but I can't provide any stats to support this general observation. The most recent changeover in the southern nest took place on 16 March, when T99 relieved J35. The female once again welcomed the male in a most expressive manner. Israel Raptor Nest Cam crew have put together this video:


The video does not quite help to illustrate the question its makers have put forward: how do the partners recognise each other? They have suggested that the Griffon Vulture in the nest is somehow able to "sense" the partner even 2 or 3 minutes before the latter lands next to the eyrie. As a matter of fact, the clip shows the female become agitated exactly 23 seconds before the male touches down next to her. Such evidence feels insufficient to suggest that Griffon Vultures could be equipped with a special sense that allows them to detect their partners' presence without being able to see them. After all, Griffon Vultures, like most other raptors, have superior vision (and, unlike their New World counterparts, a rather poor sense of smell). Additionally, it was possible to observe last year that the Griffon Vulture chicks whose progress was being followed closely in this thread would not start begging their parents for food until they were able to see the adults.
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Post by Marbzy »

27 March

Incubation in both nests is now well beyond the halfway mark. The southern egg is now 45 days old, and a chick is expected to emerge from it in about 10-12 days' time. The stream is, unfortunately, a little unstable (just like last year), but everything seems to be going according to plan, with the partners relieving each other at fairly regular intervals. The male (T99) seems to be spending a little more time with the egg than the female (J35).

Up in the north, an unusual incident occurred two days ago - the dummy egg started to disintegrate! First, a couple of chips came off the gypsum egg, and then it seemed to crack under the male's foot. A day or so later it became obvious that the egg had split into - roughly speaking - halves, with the male (and later the female too) tasting of one of the parts of the dummy egg. The incident may have left a bitter taste in their mouths...

Eventually, the broken egg was replaced with another dummy egg yesterday (26 March) in the afternoon. The pair don't seem to have been bothered too much by the switch. Incubation in this (northern) nest is now well past the 1000 hours mark. The male, currrently putting in his 6th shift, has done 619.2 (58.4%) hours of the total 1060.4 hours. His average shift has taken over 103 hours (4 days 7 hours). The female's mean incubation shift stands now at 73.5 hours (3 days 1.5 hours).

As you will recall, there is a vulture feeding station next to the northern nest, located in the Hai-Bar Carmel reserve (in the outskirts of Haifa). Just about a week ago a new exciting vulture feeding station camera was launched in the Judean Desert, much further south (though not as far as the Negev). No link can be given here, as the stream restarts under a new link every 12 hours, but if you look up the Charter Group Birdcams channel on YouTube, you'll find both the links to the live streams and a rich archive. Scenes of vultures competing for food at the feeding stations can be truly impressive!
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Post by Marbzy »

5 April

Unfortunately, the stream from the southern nest is unavailable at the moment and appears to have been unavailable for quite a few days now. No update can be offered, which is quite unfortunate considering that the egg (laid exactly 54 days ago) could hatch any moment now.

There have been no dramas up in the north. The handicapped pair have been incubating their dummy egg for 53 days now. Earlier today, the male ended his 7th incubation shift, which turned out to be his third longest shift (113.9 hours). At the time of the changeover, total incubation time stood at 1264.6 hours. The male has been "responsible" for 60.5% of the incubating. He confused the female yesterday at 18:14:03 when he jumped out of the nest and disappeared. The female climbed down into the nest, but had not even covered the egg when the male came galumphing back with a beak full of hay. He jumped back into the nest at 18:16:04, gave his mate her marching orders and plumped himself down on the egg as soon as he had spread the hay in a neat circle around the egg.

Obviously, it will be up to INPA to decide if and when a chick is planted in the pair's nest. I'll be back with more news as soon as I get it.

There have been interesting developments at the two vulture feeding stations, especially at the Judean Desert station, where two foreign griffons turned up a few day ago. One Bulgarian GV (no. A4) and one Croatian GV (ring no. CA5) were both spotted there on 29, 30 and 31 March. The Israeli GV tagged as A99 is the local hero: this bird appeared at the Hai-Bar Carmel feeding station on 23 March. Next, (s)he showed up at the Judean Desert feeding station on 26, 27 and 31 March. Yesterday, (s)he returned to the Hai-Bar Carmel station. The two stations are separated by well over 100 kms.
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Post by Marbzy »

7 April

The southern stream is back with a... chick!

The stream is available at https://www.birds.org.il/en/camera/26
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Post by Marbzy »

9 April

A video from the southern nest was posted eariier today. Here's the little vulture chick and its proud parents:


Up at the Hai-Bar Carmel reserve we're waiting for INPA to act. A nestling should be supplied to the handicapped pair in the coming days. Meanwhile, the nestling raised last year (A90) met his adoptive father yesterday at the Hai-Bar Carmel feeding station. Here's a Charter Group Birdcams video of the incident:


Fingers crossed for this year's nestlings, both hatched and unhatched (yet).
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Post by Marbzy »

12 April

The handicapped Griffon Vulture pair are no longer incubating. The male left the nest today at 15:38. When the female came into the nest just past 15:50, she discovered a tiny Griffon Vulture chick. The birdie (brought from the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan, known locally as the Safari Ramat Gan) had of course been placed in the nest by Ygal Miller, head of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

The chick's first moments with Mom are found in the first minutes of the Charter Group Birdcams video below:


All the best to the handicapped pair. May they be as successful in raising the adopted chick as they were last year!
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Post by Marbzy »

19 April

The chick adopted by the handicapped Griffon Vulture pair is doing great! The birdie is very lively and interacts a lot with the foster parents. The parents are very protective: at least one of them is in the nest, with the chick, all the time (this is very much the norm in the first 6-8 weeks of the chick's life). And they are generally falling over each other to make sure the chick is unharmed.

When the camera was being readjusted (so as to focus wholly on the nest) by two people, who had to stand very close to the nest, the chick's adoptive Mom, having initially run away together with her partner when the nest was approached by the humans, came back, climbed into the nest and sat in it with the little one until the INPA people had gone.

The Charter Group Birdcams video of the incident is here:


To find the incident, scroll to 15:51:30 (the clock's in the top left corner).
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Post by Marbzy »

And if you don't like scrolling, here's a funny little vid taken by Charter Group Birdcams early on Sunday morning: the chick is trying to attract Dad's attention (it is Dad in the video, not Mom), but Dad, being the Rock that he is, remains as stoical as ever.

Enjoy:
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Post by Marbzy »

22 April

Hai-Bar Carmel: Monday, 19 April, was an unbelievably hot day - close to 40 degrees centigrade in the shade. In the afternoon, around 2-3 p.m., the chick somehow crawled into a corner in the next box, out of reach of the foster parents. The little bird spent the night that followed in that corner. The next morning (20 April), the foster father managed to dig the cooperating nestling out of the hole. Everything seemed to go back to normal: the chick asked for food and interacted with the parents into the early afternoon hours. In the late afternoon, the nestling went quiet and stationary, appearing tired and sleepy.

The motionless nestling was collected from the nest by an INPA ranger at 08:34 on Wednesday. A dummy egg was placed in the nest as a replacement. A few hours later INPA confirmed that the chick had died and that they were going to conduct a post-mortem.

Assuming that the chick passed away yesterday morning ((s)he appeared to move, perhaps one last time, less than twenty 20 minutes before being collected), (s)he will have lived 11 days. The first 4-6 weeks are indeed a critical period in the life of Griffon Vulture chicks, but the loss of a nestling is always going to hurt, in particular when a (locally) endangered species in involved.

Right now, the handicapped pair are incubating a dummy egg again. Perhaps INPA might entrust the task of raising another captive-hatched nestling to them. Right now, we can only wait for INPA to make a decision.
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Post by Marbzy »

25 April

At 16:07 a new chick was placed in the handicapped pair's nest at the Hai-Bar Carmel reserve. Before the pair made it back to the nest, a Hooded Crow had landed on the nest rim. Thankfully, as the Charter Group Birdcams video below illustrates the chick's foster Mom arrived in time...:


Nevertheless, it was the resident female who was initially more confused and seemingly reluctant to brood the chick. The male just took the new developments in his stride. As both parents had spent the preceding night out of the nest, it may well have been the case that the chick was supplied at the last possible moment...
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