Bearded Vulture hit by train in The Netherlands


The first 'wild' Bearded Vulture to be seen in The Netherlands has died after it was hit by a train.

'Mojo' was the first-ever truly wild-hatched bird known to appear in the country – it was the offspring of two wild-born parents. Mojo came from a nest in the Alps, where a successful reintroduction scheme has been taking place. The young vulture was found dead on 29 April beside a railway line running through Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve, just east of Amsterdam.

'Mojo' was found dead near a railway line (Hans Pohlmann / Vulture Conservation Foundation).

Mojo was born in late February 2022 in the Chambeyron-Ubayette territory, near Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye, in Mercantour National Park in south-east France. This is a well-established breeding territory in the growing Alpine Bearded Vulture population that has registered successful breeding over the years.

The female from this pair is 'Rimani', herself a wild-hatched bird from a nest in the central Italian Alps. Rimani was for some years paired up with male 'Stephan', but it seems that in 2022 this bird was substituted by another male, probably 'Cassos', a male hatched in 2012 in the nearby territory of the Source de l’Ubaye. 

In spring 2022 Mojo was equipped with a GPS tag while still in the nest and was followed ever since. Mojo spent its first year moving across the Alps, as first-year Bearded Vultures do. It toured the central Alps all the way to central Switzerland between November 2022 and February this year, but in April returned south to Écrins.

Then, suddenly, it veered west, and by the 19 April, it crossed the Rhone Valley near Valence. It reached central France near Bourges, but then turned east towards Dijon, and from there north all the way to The Netherlands, where it had arrived on 27 April.

Mojo is not the first Bearded Vulture to be seen in The Netherlands, but it is the first from a confirmed wild-hatched pair. It immediately attracted a lot of interest and hundreds of Dutch birders attempted to twitch it.