In the Verdon, when the weather is good, it is almost impossible not to see vultures flying in the sky. And as the weather is very often good… Take a walk in the area of Point Sublime or from the first viewpoints of the Route des Crètes. You can also see them very well from the part of the 952 road that leads from Carajuan to Point Sublime. Look up, they are there! They had disappeared in the XIX century in the Verdon. Indeed, these majestic birds were accused in the past of being bad omens. They lived very badly the arrival of the rifles and the other rifles.
Thus, the association Vautours en Haute Provence launched in 1993 a project of reintroduction of the griffon vulture by installing several of them in an aviary above the village of Rougon. This aviary is still present, it is in this place that the population is supplied every week. Indeed, they are now quite numerous for the few carcasses that can be found in the vicinity.
The Griffon Vultures
It has a wingspan that goes from 240 cm to 280 cm for a length of 95 to 105 cm. It has long wings and a small whitish head. The Griffon Vulture is the first vulture to help itself to a carrion. It feeds on soft flesh (muscles and viscera). It has a long neck that allows it to get inside the carcass. The latter is covered with down. Indeed, the dried blood cleans better on this support than on feathers or naked skin. The first griffon vultures were released on October 16, 1999. Between 1999 and 2005, 99 griffon vultures were released from the aviaries of Rougon.
The black vulture
The reintroduction program saw an evolution from 2005 with the arrival of the black vulture. Eleven specimens were released. They fly from the Mercantour to the Barronies, nevertheless, a couple is now breeding in the Verdon. With a wingspan of 250 to 295 cm for a length of 100 to 110 cm, it is the widest of the European raptors. The young have a black plumage while the adults have a brown plumage. Its head has a powerful beak that allows it to get interested in the hardest flesh such as tendons, skin, ligaments, cartilage …
Also called “Egyptian vulture“, it is a migratory bird of prey. It has not been reintroduced in the Verdon but it benefits from some mass graves in the region. This vulture feeds mainly on dead animals but is also known to eat eggs that it breaks with stones. It has a wingspan of 165 to 170 cm and a length of 56 to 75 cm. It has long rectangular wings and a narrow head. The plumage of the young is chocolate brown while that of the adults is white and black.
The Bearded Vulture
It is a bone crusher that throws them from great heights before going to feed on the ground. With a wingspan of up to 275 cm, this vulture is rarely seen in the Verdon. It is rather found in the upper Ubaye valley or in the Mercantour National Park.