Category Archives: Birdlife of Spain

Reintroduction of the extinct (in Spain) white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)

The GREFA project continues its work with the reintroduction of the extinct (in Spain) white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Over the last few years many conservation programs in Europe have successfully brought back this historically persecuted eagle to stable population numbers and the equally successful breeding and reintroduction program in Norway has now sent nine young birds to be cared for in a hacking enclosure in Pimiango, Ribadedeva (Asturias).

As ever there are critics and supporters of this project. Mainly, the critics are stating the the white tailed eagle was never a breeding, resident species in the Iberian Peninsular…..Join in on the conversation about this at the Iberia nature Forum:

Initial experimental phase

The young birds have been fitted with radio transmitters and will hopefully be released in the Autumn (2021).

The first two years of the project have been conceived as an experimental phase in which new reintroduction techniques based on GREFA’s long experience in the recovery of large birds of prey will be tested. After this phase, an assessment will be made of the results obtained in relation to the adaptation and integration of the birds released into the ecosystem.

Reintroduction to Spain of the extinct white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
Reintroduction to Spain of the extinct white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) – Photo GREFA

If the experimental phase reaches a positive evaluation, the Pigargo Project will continue with the annual release of up to twenty specimens for at least five more years, in order to establish a future breeding population of the species in Spain.

For further reading on the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) there is an incredibly informative and in depth article at wikipedia:

And, the original press release article at GREFA (In Spanish) here:

GREFA have worked closely with the reintroduction of the bearded vulture in Spain.:

Wildside Holidays – Spain

The best and most up do date information about Wildlife in Spain and where to see it!

Eleven Bonellis eagle chicks reared in 2021

Fantastic to see that the GREFA projects working with the AQUILA a-LIFE project have announced that they have hatched and reared 11 chicks this year (2021) in the two breeding centres. The birds have already been moved to various temporary holding sites across Europe for release in the future.

Eleven Bonellis eagle chicks reared in 2021
Bonellis eagle (Aquila fasciata) in its assisted release area –

AQUILA a-LIFE wants to contribute to increasing the extent of the presence of the Bonelli’s eagle in the western Mediterranean and to reverse its regressive population trend, to help restore the ecosystems where it once lived. The project aims to work towards the recovery of the species over a large geographic (Europe) area at the meta-population scale (not at the scale of small local populations).

Full article in Spanish here:

GREFA (Grupo de Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat)

GREFA (Group for the Rehabilitation of Native Fauna and its Habitat) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that was founded in 1981 as an association for the study and conservation of nature. Since its creation, GREFA has maintained constant growth both in the development of its activities and projects and in means and resources. (In Spanish)

Bearded Vultures in Tinença de Benifassà Natural Park

Fantastic news to see that the re introduction project in Spain has become so successful over the last few years with three more Bearded Vulture in Tinença de Benifassà Natural Park using the hacking method this week.

The hacking method involves releasing chicks that hatched in captivity at an artificial nest in suitable habitat to acclimatize to the natural environment for the coming weeks before they take their first flights. With this technique, the nestlings can associate the place where they are released with the area of hatching so that when they reach breeding age, which is around 8-10 years old, they select these places to breed. When Bearded Vultures are young, they tend to travel vast distances and explore new regions, but once they become sexually mature, they tend to select areas close to where they hatched to breed.

Read the full article on the Vulture Conservation Foundation here:

Read about the Bearded Vulture here:

Iberia Nature Forum

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Albino osprey chick

The first ever known “albino” Osprey chick has hatched in the Urdaibai biosphere reserve in the Basque country.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the albino chick died within a few days as it seemed it sight was impaired and only fed a couple of times. The female removed it from the nest a few hours after it died. The two remaining Chicks are growing rapidly on their fish diet.

Follow the conversation over at the Iberia Nature forum: